How can I help my 8-year-old slim down?

My daughter, who’s 8, has a bit of a weight problem, but I don’t want to put her on a diet. Can I help her slim down without making her neurotic?

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Michael Roizen, M.D.
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Michael Roizen, M.D.

As chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, Michael F. Roizen, MD, is on a mission to inform... Read more

Absolutely. You’re her role model for good eating and physical activity. Most 8-year-olds will do what their parents do, rather than what they say, so if you involve your child in physical activities that you do, you’ll help her develop lifelong habits that will make her healthier.

Start with walking for 30 to 45 minutes in the morning or as soon as you’re both home in the afternoon. You can also teach her to do some of the same resistance exercises that you do as long as they’re appropriate for her age. This combo is the most effective way to tone and trim the body.

The second part of this has to do with foods such as cookies, chips and white bread and pastas that contain the five food felons: saturated fats, trans fats, sugar, syrups and grains that aren’t 100 percent whole grains. If any of these is listed as one of the first five ingredients in a food, don’t buy it! They age body cells and aren’t needed to make food taste good. It’s up to you to teach your child that food can be delicious without added fats, sugars and other felons. Some parents have a hard time “denying” their kids such treats, but the fact is, by not allowing them, you set your child up for a life of good health. The same goes for teaching your daughter to prepare healthy meals by having her cook with you.

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