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Do overweight children need a special diet?

Our weight-conscious society can be an unhealthy place for children. Children who are placed on restrictive diets lose self-esteem. They believe we are not happy with them the way they are. If we restrict food, we can also stunt growth and development. If a child suddenly puts on extra weight, talk with a pediatrician and dietitian to make sure there is no underlying health problems. If a child’s weight gain is the result of family stress—divorce, death, abuse, etc. then seek the help of a professional counselor. Weight gain in adults and children is most often caused by a combination of inadequate physical activity and an unhealthy diet. Limit television, video and movie watching. Encourage physical play, and limit fast foods, soft drinks, chips and snack cakes. These foods aren’t healthy for anyone in the family. Explain to children that people come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and that’ s okay. It’s what makes us unique and special. Most important, set a good example. Our children look up to us; don’t let them down. 


Review Making Mealtime Pleasant with Young Children for more information.



Melinda Hemmelgarn, M.S., R.D., Nutritional Sciences Specialist, University of Missouri Extension








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Last update: Friday, February 06, 2009



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