My child is overweight. Should I get him a fitness tracker?

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I want to help my child. But I'm not sure what to do.

Asked on: 11/20/2016
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Answered on: 04/19/2017

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To help your child maintain a healthy weight, balance the calories your child consumes from foods and beverages with the calories your child uses through physical activity and normal growth. The goal for overweight and obese children and teens is to reduce the rate of weight gain while allowing normal growth and development. (Children and teens should NOT be placed on a weight reduction diet without the consultation of a health care provider).

How can parents help? Here are some steps recommended by the Center for Disease Control:
• Encourage healthy eating habits: look for ways to make favorite dishes healthier and remove calorie-rich temptations.
• Help kids stay active and reduce sedentary time.

Helping Overweight Children

Weight loss is not a good approach for most young children, since their bodies are growing and developing. Overweight children should not be put on a diet unless a physician supervises one for medical reasons. A restrictive diet may not supply the energy and nutrients needed for normal growth and development. For most very young children, the focus should be to maintain current weight, while the child grows normally in height.
If your child is already overweight, put your focus on eating healthy, balanced meals, serving smaller portions, eliminating soda and fast foods from the diet, taking walks together, eating together as a family around the table (instead of on the go) and teach them about healthy snacking between meals (vegetables, as well as nuts), and encourage daily physical activity. Reward them with hugs and praise, not food.

Fitness Trackers and Childhood Obesity

Trackers have been trendy in the last few years. Few studies have looked at the best way for children to use the trackers, said Michelle Garrison, an epidemiologist at Seattle Children's Research Institute and the University of Washington School of Medicine. Some kids are interested in tracking their activity, and a fitness tracker makes it more fun for them to be active.

According to LiveScience Magazine, Fitness Trackers Could Boost Kids' Health, But Face Challenges. “Some trackers out there aren't an ideal fit for the needs of children and their families”, other experts say. “But there are some reasons to think trackers could be effective in children”.

For younger kids, don’t worry about tracking steps as much as making activity fun . Many trackers allow your child to earn rewards – just make sure the rewards aren’t sugary sweets that will un-do their healthful progress. For teens, ensure that daily progress is visible on the band itself, find one that syncs with your phone via Bluetooth, so there's no need to plug it into your phone to check your stats, find one that’s water resistant, and – for teens - get one with a sleep tracker as well as a step tracker.

Sources:
• Center for Disease Control
www.Health.NY/Gov

Answered on: 12/04/2016