The percentage of children and adolescents who are overweight and obese is now at its highest, with 1 in 5 children in the U.S. qualifying as being overweight (overweight is defined as 10 percent over ideal body weight; obesity is defined as 30 pounds or more over ideal body weight). Poor dietary habits and inactivity are reported to contribute to the increase of obesity in youth, according to the American Obesity Association. Successfully preventing or treating obesity in childhood may reduce the risk of adult obesity. This in turn may help reduce the risk of heart disease and other diseases, according to the American Heart Association.
As her parent, you must play a part in helping your daughter make small but permanent changes in her eating and exercise habits. This will work better than a series of short-term changes that can't be sustained. What you can do:
• Rid your kitchen of all junk foods and sugary drinks, especially foods high in fat. If you've been stocking them because there are other members of your family who don't struggle with their weight, know that the rest of the family can live without such items. Do be aware, however, that highly restrictive diets that forbid favorite foods are likely to fail, according to the American Heart Association.
• Model a lifestyle of healthy eating: Parents who model healthful eating can have a significant positive influence on the health of their children. Which means healthful eating and no fad diets for you -- as well as for your daughter. Fad dieting is not only unhealthy, but it can give a girl the message that her body is an object that needs to be punished. Overeating and under-eating are both punishing behaviors.