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Making a healthy diet and increased physical activity a family affair gives an overweight child a better chance to drop some pounds.

Guidelines for Managing Children's Weight

By Alfredo Flores
September 23, 2005

Parents concerned about their children's weight problems can now access a free bilingual brochure, thanks to the efforts of Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists at the Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) in Houston, Texas.

"Your Child's Weight: Help Your Child With Successful Weight Management" outlines common causes for why children are overweight, and offers suggestions on how to deal with the weight problem as a family. It presents strategies for success and provides a list of additional resources for families to utilize. The brochure was originally developed by registered dietitian Joan Carter, formerly with CNRC. Carter collected data from health databases and nutrition experts and was assisted by several CNRC staffers, including nutrition researcher Janice Stuff.

Weight-management programs for children and adults differ greatly. With adult programs, the main focus is on weight loss through increased physical activity and a healthier diet. With programs for overweight children and adolescents, the focus is not on weight loss, but rather on keeping weight stable while the child grows taller and more muscular over time.

The overweight child has much better success when the family as a whole adopts healthy eating behaviors and increases physical activity. The brochure suggests that parents serve as role models and a support system, while participating in their child's weight-management program.

For example, health experts recommend that most children should have at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity daily. "Your Child's Weight" lists fun ways for the family to get involved in activities such as roller skating or softball, frisbee or croquet. Also encouraged is involvement in community or other group activities such as hiking trails and going to swimming pools and skating rinks.

"Your Child's Weight" is available in English and Spanish on the World Wide Web at:

The CNRC is operated by the Baylor College of Medicine in cooperation with ARS and the Texas Children's Hospital. ARS is the U.S. Department of Agriculture's chief in-house scientific research agency.