The Cleveland Clinic

Weight Loss:
Helping Your Child to Lose Weight

When you and your child's doctor have determined that your child needs to lose weight, a serious attempt to treat the problem should be undertaken. Here are some tips to get you started.

  • Set goals. Just like with adult weight loss, the goals in children should be attainable, allowing for normal growth. The goals should initially be small, so that the child doesn't become discouraged or overwhelmed. A five to 10 pound weight loss is a reasonable first goal -- about 1-4 pounds per month.
  • Food diary. Work with your child to keep a food diary. This should include not just the type and quantity of food eaten, but where it was eaten, and who else was present. The diary is not meant to help calculate calories eaten. Rather, it is useful in determining eating patterns and problem foods.
  • Diet. Work with your child's doctor to ensure that your child is receiving a balanced diet, even if the calories consumed are decreased. Consider working with a dietitian also.
  • Physical activity. Exercise is an essential component for any long-term weight loss. Start small, to avoid discouraging the child and work up to 20-30 minutes of moderate activity per day in addition to what they get in school.
  • Behavior modification. It's important to help your child learn the skills to modify the behaviors that may be causing the weight problem. Consider sending your child to a nutritional counselor.
  • Parental role. Help your child by limiting the amount of fattening foods in the house, eating all meals at the dinner table at designated times and discouraging second helpings.