Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Parents need to develop good habits of their own to help their children maintain a healthy weight.
Don't make your child eat when he or she isn't hungry.
Don't insist that your child finish a meal.
Don't rush meal time. In general, you eat more when you eat quickly.
Don't use food to comfort or reward.
Don't offer dessert as a reward for finishing a meal.
Offer your child a healthy, balanced diet that includes a variety of foods. No more than 30% of calories should come from fats. The American Heart Association guidelines (see below) are appropriate for most children.
Switch your child from whole milk to 2% milk at age two years. If she or he is overweight, switch to 1% milk. In early childhood, skim milk should only be substituted following a doctor's recommendation.
Don't eat at fast-food restaurants more than once a week.
Make sure meals eaten outside the home, such as school lunches, are balanced.
Offer your child water to quench thirst. Avoid soda, "power" or energy drinks, sports drinks, cola, and other sugary or caffeinated drinks and teas.
Limit your child's time spent watching television or playing computer and video games.
Encourage your child to do something active, like riding a bicycle, jumping rope, or playing ball. Better yet, bicycle or play ball with your child.
Teach your child good eating and exercise habits now.
American Heart Association Dietary Guidelines for Healthy Children and Families
Achieve adequate nutrition by eating a wide variety of foods.
Eat adequate energy (calories) to support growth and development and reach a healthy body weight.
Recommended average daily fat intake
Saturated fat: 7%-10% of total calories
Total fat: limited to 25%-30% of total calories
Cholesterol: less than 300 mg per day
These guidelines apply to adults and children older than 2 years of age.
These measures should be applied to everyone in the family, not just children who are already overweight or obese.
Parents should focus on building self-esteem and coping with emotional distress.