According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 17 percent of American children and adolescents are obese. Obese kids are at a greater risk of developing high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. A parent with an overweight preteen girl can feel overwhelmed by the problem, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Dieting and restricting caloric intake are not recommended for these girls; instead, the focus is on the family and making healthy eating and exercise changes.
Foods to Eat More Of
Making healthy food choices is the first step toward a healthy weight for preteen girls. The AAP recommends eating five servings of fruits and vegetables every day. They also recommend eating low-fat, high-calcium foods such as low-fat milk and yogurt. Choosing more whole grains like whole wheat bread, whole grain pasta and brown rice will increase fiber intake and help a preteen girl feel full. Eating more lean proteins including chicken, fish, lean red meat and low-fat cheese will also help her reach her weight loss goal.
Foods to Eat Less Of
Limiting unhealthy foods will decrease the intake of empty calories. Empty calories add up fast and offer no nutritional value.The AAP recommends limiting intake of sweetened beverages like soda and juice. Registered dietitians recommend eliminating candy, chips, cake, cookies and French fries from the shopping list. The AAP and registered dietitians both agree on limiting fast food to no more than once a week. Limit in-between meal snacking and choose snacks with fewer than 100 calories.
Activity is an important component of a weight loss plan. Regular activity that includes weight-resistance training will preserve a preteen girl's lean muscle tissue while she loses fat. TV time should be limited to one hour a day. A 2001 study published in "Pediatric Clinics of North America" found that TV watching contributes to weight gain by slowing down metabolism. Eating regularly as a family, and never skipping breakfast, will help a preteen to stay on track, as will serving appropriate portions on everyone’s plate, skipping the buffet style of eating and allowing seconds on vegetables only. Scheduled meals and snacks will limit grazing. Most important, food should not be used as a reward.