Emily Bradbury, guest contributor

The number of children who are obese or overweight is growing at an alarming rate.  If your child is putting on weight this can be a worrying sign for their health, and could lead to health problems like diabetes, asthma and heart disease in later life. It will be very upsetting to tell your child that they are overweight and need to diet, however it is important that their approach to food is changed.

Rather than drastically change your child’s eating habits over night, it might be best to make subtle changes initially, and change the way you all eat as a family.  You must make it clear to your child that you love them and want the best for them, and with the right encouragement you will help them reach and maintain a healthy weight.


Possible causes of your child’s weight gain

Increasingly families are cooking less and buying ready meals or eating out. Although you may feel that you are too busy to cook every night, it is very hard to monitor the fat and calorie content of the food your child is eating when you haven’t made it yourself.

Increasingly children play video games and watch TV in their spare time. It isn’t safe to play in the streets and around the neighbourhood like it used to be in past generations, so it can be more difficult for children to get the exercise they need to stay healthy.


What you can do to help your child



Don’t let your child feel alone

If your overweight child feels like they are the only family member with a changing diet this could make them feel angry and picked on. Make it clear to your child that you are making some changes to your lifestyle as a family so that you will all feel healthier. If you are eating the same food as them your child will feel more motivated.


Changes at meal times

Making the time to cook a meal for the whole family is worth the effort, and needn’t take as long as you think. Take a look at some quick and healthy recipes for inspiration. Try to avoid food that is obvious ‘diet’ food, like a big plate of salad, and think about taking some of your child’s favourite food but making a healthy alternative.

For instance if your child loves chicken nuggets, try out a recipe for almond-crusted, oven baked chicken fingers instead. It is important to change your child’s outlook on food, and show them that healthy can be tasty to.


Cutting back snacking

Excessive snacking is a quick way for your child to pile on the pounds, and can easily go unnoticed by you. If your child has access to a cupboard of snacks in your kitchen, rather than hiding these suddenly and making your child feel like they are being punished consider the kind of snacks that are available to your child.

You could replace chocolate and crisps with fresh fruit, little packets of raisins or nuts, and healthier alternatives, like cereal bars and rice cakes. Your child will want to indulge less when the snacks are less exciting, and won’t be doing so much damage to their health when they do.



If your child isn’t very active think about fun ways you can encourage them to change this. You could treat them to a trampoline for the garden, which is great exercise and a lot of fun as well. If your child is quite young, you could take them to the park to play with their friends more often, or if they are a little older you could suggest family bike rides, or going swimming.

By taking these steps you can help your child lose weight gradually without making them feel punished. If your family works together to help your child eat more healthily and enjoy exercise, they will start to lose weight over time, leading to a changed mindset and attitude towards food for the whole family.


Emily Bradbury is writing on behalf of Core Assets, who provide foster placements, supervised contact sessions and domiciliary care for looked-after children globally.