Getting Active May Relieve Anxiety, Depression in Kids

Obesity is defined on the Mayo Clinic Web site as “having an excessive amount of body fat.” It is emphasized that obesity should not be confused with simply being overweight, which is not quite as serious.

What Does Obesity Do to You?

The ill effects of obesity on the body are well documented. The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute identifies some of the illnesses a person who is not a healthy weight is more prone to developing:
  • Coronary heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Certain cancers

These ailments were originally thought to be exclusive to adults, but now doctors are seeing a higher incidence of them in overweight and obese children.

Toll on the Body and the Mind

Children who are obese are more likely to be teased by their peers. The bullying and taunting obese children face often results in low self-esteem. Children who suffer from low self-esteem may be inclined to fall into depression.

Making Healthy Changes

The good news is that children are even more capable of learning and practicing healthy eating habits. With guidance from an adult, a child who is overweight or obese can work towards being a safer weight.

While nutrition is important, the value of exercise should not be discounted. Besides having obvious physical benefits, exercise can help a child or teen feel less anxious or depressed. A study from 2006 showed that exercise, whether mild or intense, can potentially improve mood in young people. Research is still being conducted to determine how much of an effect exercise has and how much exercise is needed to see positive results in a child. Nevertheless, the findings are promising.

Getting Help for Your Child

If you’re uncertain of how to help your child to lose weight, you may want to start by consulting a pediatrician or a nutritionist. Have your child’s overall physical health evaluated and ask for a professional opinion so you’ll have an accurate idea of his or her current state.

Speaking with a health specialist will also allow you to make sure that the exercise and dietary changes you select for your child are appropriate and healthy. If necessary, a doctor can help you to design a specific weight loss plan for your son or daughter. This method will probably help you to see results sooner.

Motivating Your Child

It’s crucial that, as a parent, you handle your child’s weight issue as lovingly, patiently, and tactfully as possible. You may not think much of a little well-meant teasing, but your son or daughter certainly may.

It’s also important not to push your child too much. Make losing weight a fun and exciting goal for your entire family to work on together. In this way, you can spend more time with your family and encourage one another.

Go jogging together at the park, take a trip to the beach for a swim and bring some healthy snacks. Cook a healthy meal together. Just be positive about getting in shape and emphasize that the real goal is not just weight loss but a change in lifestyle. Teach your child that eating right and exercising should be lifelong habits.