When, If At All, Should A Child Have Weight Loss Goals?

Question: When, if at all, should a child have weight loss goals?

Answer: Weight loss goals for a child may be appropriate when there is a secondary medical condition or if the child is extremely overweight. Now if a child is overweight and also has high blood pressure or perhaps diabetes or even the beginnings of heart disease, and weight loss would help reduce the risk for those diseases, then weight loss goals may be very appropriate.

It's never appropriate however to tie weight or body image to the child's self-esteem or how they feel about themselves. It's never about cosmetics. It's always about health, and it's important to emphasize that to the child.

Now, weight loss goals should be made very gradually. And it may be that your child doesn't have to reduce to a normal body weight. It may be that your child's risk for these kinds of chronic diseases may be improved significantly by reducing their body weight even 10 percent. So discuss this with your pediatrician, and remember that weight loss goals should be undertaken very gradually and shouldn't be achieved at a rate any faster than one pound per week for most children.