Q & A Library

Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Should Kids Diet?
My 10-year-old son is overweight. My husband says he'll outgrow it, but I'm very concerned. Any advice? I don't want to make him self-conscious about his body.
Answer (Published 10/5/2004)

Previously published 09/06/04

The nationwide epidemic of childhood obesity seems to be worse than it was only a short time ago, so your concern is timely. And obesity at an early age can certainly affect your son's future health. Results of a recent study in Arkansas, believed to be representative of the United States as a whole, found that 40 percent of public schoolchildren are overweight and nearly one in four is obese. Another study found that nearly 50 percent of American eighth-graders are overweight or at risk of being overweight. The researchers, from Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, reported that about 40 percent of the children they studied had pre-diabetes and nearly half had low levels of HDL, the "good" cholesterol (here, higher levels are desirable). Many had blood pressure that was above normal for their ages.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Diabetes - Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Diabetes If you have type II diabetes, a healthful diet and lifestyle and specific supplements and herbs may help manage symptoms. Learn more and get your free, personalized vitamin and supplement recommendation today from Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor.

Interestingly, a third study, this one from England, found that parents are often unaware that their kids are overweight. Parents of about one third of the obese girls and one half of the obese boys in the study said that their kids' weight was "about right." (Among those parents who themselves were overweight or obese one third of the mothers and half the fathers said that their own weight was "about right.") And some parents of kids whose weight was normal worried that the youngsters were underweight.

I sympathize with your concern that efforts to help your son achieve a healthier weight might make him self-conscious. But child health experts are now so concerned about the potential health effects of being overweight or obese (diabetes, heart disease and other serious medical consequences later in life) that they believe that identifying and helping overweight kids overrides any stigma that may attach. For every year that a child remains overweight, his or her chances of growing into an overweight adult increases.

Here are steps you can take to help your son form new health habits that should have a positive impact on his weight:

  • Eat meals together. This will give you more control over the food your son eats. Learn about differences between good and bad fats and good and bad carbohydrates. Minimize consumption of fast food and snack foods.
  • Consult "The Healthy Kitchen" - the book I wrote with Rosie Daley - for concise information on nutrition as well as easy recipes. Family mealtimes also give parents an opportunity to find out what their kids are worried about so they can address any stress that might underlie emotional eating.
  • Encourage physical activity. Schools have cut back on physical education classes and extracurricular sports programs so it's now up to parents to make sure that their kids get daily exercise. Try to make this a family activity.
  • Curb screen time: Limit the time your son watches television, plays video games or sits at the computer.

Getting control of the childhood obesity epidemic is a national priority, and, for the parents of overweight kids, a very personal one. Best of luck.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle on (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Related Topics

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

Copyright © 2015 Weil Lifestyle
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here