Managing Your Child’s Obesity

What I have learnt from being a mother of three is that we tend to parent the same way we were brought up. As a child, I was shown love primarily through food. The amount of food I accepted was my way of showing love, as this was how love was expressed to me. I sometimes find myself doing the same with my sons. I am constantly baking cookies and cupcakes as a token of my love. It wasn’t until I noticed that my older sons were not as active and were indulging in my love cookies that I realised I wasn’t setting a good example. I am now more aware of expressing my love through kisses and cuddles rather than food.

As a personal trainer working in the gym, I am constantly faced with clients who are not sitting in their healthy weight range. Once I start to analyse their nutritional choices, it becomes clear that they are eating the same way as they were raised.

This realisation has made me aware of the powerful influences we have on our children and how we can contribute to reducing obesity in the next generation. As responsible parents, we can help our children reach their healthy weight by making healthy lifestyle changes at home that everyone can benefit from, thus creating a happy environment.

To determine whether your child is obese you can use growth charts as a guide, but it is highly recommended that you consult your doctor to assess whether your child has a weight issue.

From my experience with speaking to my clients, it has become clear that obesity often starts at childhood resulting from the influence of the parents’ diet and lifestyle choices. The major concern is that most overweight children will continue to be overweight as adults because they don’t know any different.

I found some great suggestions from the Better Health Channel, set up by the Australian government in Victoria, which I want to share with you.

Changing Eating Habits

  • Seeking good nutritional advice can change the eating habits of the entire family.
  • Having a good supply of healthy snacks at home makes it less tempting to reach for sugary and fatty treats.
  • Switch to low fat versions of milk, cheese and yogurt.
  • Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Choose a low fat, low sugar, wholegrain cereal.
  • Snacking should not be discouraged, but it should be healthy. Having fresh fruit and vegetables from the fridge is a healthy option.
  • Offer water and low fat milk as drinks, as opposed to unhealthy sugary soft drinks.
  • Takeaway meals should be considered a treat and be limited to no more than once a week.
  • Organising and planning your meals in advance will help reduce the need for takeaway food. When preparing meals, cook larger quantities and freeze some for later. This will help when you return late from work and don’t feel like cooking.
  • Family time spent preparing healthy meals together creates a loving and caring environment.
  • Ask extended family, such as grandparents, to assist by not readily giving high fat, sugary treats to children.

Become More Active As A Family

  • Set a good example for your children as they are more likely to follow in your footsteps.
  • Encourage your children to be active and play outdoors.
  • Do family activities together like going for walks, playing soccer, riding a bike or go swimming together. Aim for at least 30 minutes of outdoor play each day outside school hours.
  • Reduce the amount of television and computer time.
  • Find out about local seminars and educational activities that can help establish healthy lifestyle choices for life.
  • Don’t reward your child with sugary treats. Instead treat them with their favourite outing or activity.

Strategies to Avoid

  • Weight targets – Setting specific weight targets is unrealistic and could be counterproductive. Instead, concentrate on maintaining healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle while commending your child when they succeed in those areas.
  • Crash dieting – The proper physical development of a growing child requires exposure to a wide variety of foods. Avoid crash dieting which limits the kilojoules intake of a child too drastically or may even cut out a complete food group, such as dairy food. The ultimate objective should be to slowly decrease the kilojoules intake and maintain that on a daily basis.
  • Dramatic changes – You cannot expect to break your family habits overnight. It’s just unrealistic. Do not expect your child to readily accept dramatic changes to their diet and lifestyle. Instead, focus on making small changes that you can maintain regularly as part of your everyday family life. If necessary, seek the advice of your health professional.
  • Appetite suppressants – The use of current weight management medication is not a safe option for growing children.
  • Ridicule – Do not ridicule a child about being overweight. It could be highly damaging to a child’s self-esteem and will not promote weight loss.

Suggestion for Schools

  • Discuss your child’s health issue with the school medical staff.
  • Approach the teachers or principal of your child’s school about any additional educational material the school may offer about healthy lifestyle choices. And make sure to reinforce at home the information learnt.
  • Packing fatty snacks, such as potato chips, in your child’s lunchbox is not a healthy option and should be avoided.
  • Discuss with the school about offering healthy food options at the canteen and make suggestions where required. And guide your child to make those healthy choices at the canteen.





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About Loretta Mostofi (BS, Certificate III & IV Personal Training)

Loretta Mostofi is a certified personal trainer from Sydney, Australia. She is an Australian and World Natural Figure Champion and fitness model. Her passion is in physical transformation through fitness, weight loss and resistance training. Since a very young age she has embraced a healthy and active lifestyle through athletics, indoor/outdoor soccer
and currently enjoys weight training and doing outdoor cardio activities. She is a busy mum who understands the challenges faced by all of us - to maintain a home, a self image, a family and a social life. She is fortunate now to be able to do what she loves; stay fit and encourage others by sharing what she has learned. Her secret to fitness success is that if you train hard and eat well the majority of the time, you will still have plenty of room to enjoy those indulgences that life has to offer. IT'S ALL ABOUT BALANCE!

Contact Loretta at
Lorettaʼs website: http:/