The best method of weight loss for a child really depends on his age. Children under the age of 7 generally shouldn't have their calories restricted below their recommended daily allowance.
The most appropriate approach for this age range is weight management, where calories are kept within a healthy range so the child's height can eventually catch up to his weight. It isn't until a child gets older that actual weight-loss techniques can be used to help him lose the excess pounds.
Under the Age of 7
A little tyke needs you to monitor his caloric needs daily. Plan family activities to help your child increase his level of fitness.
1. Talk to Your Family Physician
Check with a pediatrician before making any changes to your child's diet or level of activity. Your doctor has better insight into what techniques you should use to help your child reach the appropriate weight and body mass index for her age and height.
2. Number of Calories
Determine the number of calories your child needs to maintain her current weight. Since you're using weight management to help your child lose her belly fat, you need to keep her caloric intake within the dietary recommendation for her sex and age.
According to the American Heart Association, girls between the ages of 4 and 6 require an average of 1,200 calories, and boys of the same ages require an average of 1,400 calories each day. Children between the ages of 2 to 3 require 1,000 calories, and 1-year-olds need around 900 calories, regardless of their sex.
3. Plan Healthy Meals
Start planning meals that are rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy while limiting high-fat meats and convenience foods, like meal helpers, frozen meals and prepackaged sides. To successfully manage your child's weight, the whole family needs to change their dietary habits. Turn to fresh fruits and vegetables, says Kids Health.
Buy whole-grain pastas, breads and cereals that are low in sugar. Stick to lean cuts of meat, such as fish, poultry and beefs that are "round" or "tenderloin" to lower fat intake.
Promote family meals over curbside dining. No matter how busy you and your family have become, you can still make time for family meals, which tend to be more balanced and nutritious than fast foods. Fast foods are laden with excess calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium.
Encourage water consumption over sweetened beverages, such as soda, iced tea and even fruit juice. Most of these types of beverages are fairly high in sugar, meaning high in calories.
4. What to Snack On
Stock your pantry and refrigerator with plenty of healthy snacks. Have nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables and fat-free cheese on hand. They're by far the healthiest options for snacking between mealtimes and often contain far fewer calories than prepackaged chips, sweets and candies.
5. Physical Activities for the Family
Involve the whole family in physical activities to increase your kid's level of fitness. Take family bike rides or hiking excursions. Plan cross-country ski trips or walks around the neighborhood. Sign up your child for a competitive sport, like tennis, basketball, football or soccer. Anything that gets your child on her feet can promote a healthier lifestyle, allowing for her height to catch up to her weight.
Read more: Meal Plan for Overweight Kids
Your Older Child
Keep your child on the straight and narrow eating the correct number of calories. Make sure your kid gets an hour of cardio activity a day, as recommended by the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.
1. Talk With Your Doctor
Talk to your family physician. As with younger children, you should discuss your child's weight-loss options with her doctor even at a more advanced age.
2. Caloric Needs for Kids
Determine the amount of calories your child needs to maintain his current weight. Since you're using weight loss to help your child shed excess pounds, you need to understand the caloric need for someone of his sex and age.
According to the American Heart Association, girls between the ages of 7 and 8 require an average of 1,200 calories and boys of the same ages require an average of 1,400 calories each day. Girls between 9 and 13 need an average of 1,600 calories while boys require a bit more, averaging at 1,800 calories. Older girls and boys generally need 1,800 and 2,200 calories, respectively.
3. Reduce Calorie Intake
Reduce the caloric intake of your child's diet slightly. Weight loss for children and teens should be gradual, averaging around a 1-pound loss per week or month. Cutting 100 calories from your kid's diet each day, which is the equivalent of a glass of juice, can translate into 1 pound of weight loss per month. Eliminating 280 calories each day, which is equivalent to two cans of soda, prompts over 2 pounds of weight loss each month.
4. Encourage Playing Outdoors
Encourage physical activity over sedentary pastimes. If your child becomes involved with an athletic pursuit, you may not need to restrict calories below the recommendation for her sex and age. Biking, running, swimming, volleyball, tennis or other competitive sports often lead to an increase in calories burned each day, prompting weight loss.
Read more: Meal Plan for Overweight Kids
Consider limiting your child's screen time to encourage more physical activity. Also restrict eating in front of the TV as mindless eating often leads to overeating.