Overweight Kids

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi, I am looking for a Kaiser pediatrician (Oakland or Richmond preferred) who won't make comments about my child's weight. She is 8 and slightly overweight but I do not believe it is a health issue and am far more concerned about the psychological damage of such comments (I still remember my pediatrician making similar comments to me). The last Kaiser pediatrician she saw gave a 5-minute lecture about childhood obesity and how I shouldn't feed her chips and juice (I don't). She was younger then so I tolerated it but I am not taking the risk of going back to him. I'm happy to have conversations about nutrition and physical activity, but do not want any comments about weight or losing weight. I would welcome any recommendations for a Kaiser pediatrician who fits this bill. Many thanks.

    We love our pediatrician- Dr. Shawnsa Johnson at Kaiser Oakland. I really can’t imagine her talking like this, especially in front of your child but you could send a message through their app or website before your appointment to let her know your concerns. 

    Our KP pediatrician hasn't ever commented our daughter's weight, and she's on the heavy side, always has been. I am also overweight as is her dad who takes her to appointments. Her name is Sue Goddard in Oakland.

    Nora Garcia-Zepeda - I had a "bigger" girl and she was specifically SO sensitive about this exact thing.

    Dr Fischoff has been respectful and helpful to my son around weight issues. It might be worth emailing your pediatrician before your appointment to ask him/her to handle the subject delicately. Good luck!

    Have you given your doctor feedback on your concerns?  I think any doctor you would see is likely going to raise the concern about childhood obesity if your child is indeed overweight, and you could simply find yourself repeating the process with other doctors.  You could easily share in a kp.org message that you'd prefer conversations about weight take place with you alone as the parent as a phone visit, and that during in-person visits the doctor not mention weight/concerns directly to the child.  I think most KP doctors would be very receptive and understanding that you're sensitive to the issue personally based on your history, and that you are already doing things at home to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.  Do recognize that KP sees the highest percentage of medicare/medical patients in the state, so they are very used to seeing patients come in very irregularly, not schedule well-checks, etc. so they are trying to be prudent and ensure they cover all the bases in the event they don't see your family again for another full year or more, in case you have not heard the info before, in case you were hoping the doctor would validate an open question in your mind and it opens a door to finally discuss it, etc.  This doctor is undoubtedly "on your side" and was well-intentioned, even if you received the comments as insensitive through the lens of your own, valid, and traumatic history with doctors warning you about obesity as a child.  I'd offer feedback before switching.  If you are still committed to a switch (and your daughter is approaching an age where a female doctor may be desired?), make sure you surface this request in advance or you're likely to repeat the experience!

    Hi, I am so sorry you are having this experience.

    My sister is a private practice pediatrician and we were just talking about this exact same topic. Doctors are required to cover some specific serious health issues or they don't get reimbursed through the payer. Kaiser is the same, their staff are at risk of not meeting specific health care requirements and goals that allow them to be underwritten by financial insurance companies. These requirements are not really patient driven, but more about future cost savings for preventable expensive health care conditions If you are a Kaiser adult patient and see your primary care physician and ob/gyn, you may recall that you always get asked about smoking and offered smoking cessation programs.

    There are more tactful ways to discuss sensitive topics like weight, smoking, birth control, STD prevention, etc. You can talk to your child's pediatrician in advance about ways to make this a more positive, inspiring, productive conversation. Physicians can be the best resources to assist with health issues that are known to cause future (expensive) health issues. They can also help with support groups, medical testing to rule out other potential causes, ways to sleuth out possibly unknown sources of health threats (interestingly, my sister says that a report showed that grandparents are often the source of unknown high calories).

    The bottom line is that you are the mom and you obviously care about your child's overall health. Maintaining a healthy weight is just one piece of a comprehensive health treatment and prevention plan.  

    best wishes

    We love Dr. Elizabeth Gray in Oakland. She is very receptive to hearing parents and educating them. I think if you contacted her ahead of time, she would be receptive to you. We only changed because our child tirned 13 and wanted a male doc.

    I recommend Teshina Wilson in Pinole. 

    I'm sorry that you've had to deal with that. Our family loves Dr. Cohen at Richmond Kaiser. He is very personable, knowledgeable, and kind. I would suggest emailing these concerns to whatever doctor you choose ahead of your appointment, so that they are aware and can be sensitive to your child's needs. Good luck!

    I am also interested in finding a Kaiser ped who won’t fat shame my kid. My kid got her dad’s frame, which means she’s likely to be at best overweight, but even more likely genetically obese. My husband, when at his peak ( eating right, cycling 35-50 mikes per week) is 30 pounds overweight to when not at peak can be almost 100 pounds overweight. At his heaviest he has had  zero health problems-blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol all normal. He comes from big people who live to 100. My daughter got that gene and is  4-11 and 110 pounds at age 11.  She is on the swim team, runs, does rock climbing and mountain biking so is not a couch potato. She does eat too much, but could be as tall as 5’9” to 5’10”, so we aren’t pushing anything but a balanced diet. Ped showed her the height-weight chart and made her commit to one behavior change. She felt shamed but wouldn’t talk about it.She’s refusing to go to the doctor at all now and I don’t blame her at all! So yes, please any recommendations because other kids need non shaming doctors too!

    We belong to Kaiser as well, and their doctors are hit and miss. I would definitely seek another dr asap... the good thing about Kaiser is that you can provide feedback via survey, which they take seriously, and make your doctor switch online, affective immediately. Hopefully you can get a few local referrals. Sending positive energy!

  • Weight concerns with 9 yr old

    (5 replies)

    I'm looking for suggestions on how to broach the subject of weight concerns with my nine year old boy without causing the kind of reaction where he is overly aware of it and has embarrassment or sneaks around to eat treats. My son has never been super interested in athletics as much as we've tried to support and encourage these interests. My husband and I eat pretty healthy, exercise, and have always tried to instill this in our kids. He's always had a little bit of a tummy, but this summer it really seemed much more apparent. He's doing some martial arts classes one to two days per week, but that's it for sports other than whatever happens at school. He's a bright kid, does well in school, and enjoys reading. But he, like many kids his age, enjoys treats and screen time. We try to limit those, but try not to be too obsessive about it. I'm wondering what I can do to help him control his weight and / or get healthier as well as how to kind of get him a little aware without giving him any weird complexes about his body. Any suggestions, books, websites are appreciated.

    My suggestion is to wait before specific changes in your sons diet. I do remember how distressed I was when I received a letter from the county describing my son as obese. His physician had no concerns. There is dramatic change in proportions that kids go through during this this age. My son grew out before growing up. He needed no special diet. That said, it’s easier to just not have things available in your home if it is too attractive for the kids. I didn’t ever have things like soda or candy available at the house and only allowed screen time on weekends. 

    I want to highly, highly recommend Child of Mine, by Ellyn Satter. It addresses just this issue (and many more). 

    I also want to suggest that you keep in mind how common it is for kids to grow out before they grow up. I saw this happen to my brother multiple times when we were kids. He would get chubby (and was horribly teased for it by my dad, of all people. Argh.) And then he would shoot up and be a beanpole, then get chubby again, etc. He eventually settled into a very tall person who is still a normal weight in his mid-40's. 

    Encourage your son to enjoy and listen to his body - martial arts are GREAT for building body awareness - and healthy habits will most likely follow. (But seriously, read the Ellyn Satter  book. It is hands down the best parenting book I have ever read, on any subject. So much wisdom in that book!)

    As a family you could cut back on some of the carbohydrates and replace a few things in the pantry with lower carb, lower sugar options. Such as almond flour crackers, or coconut sugar or nectar. Nut milks in the smoothie... Honey on your yogurt instead of pre-sweetened kinds. If you slowly integrate these changes as a family then that one child won't feel singled out or like he is completely missing out on everything. And you can still enjoy treats now and then. I just recently stopped buying cereal. The kids protested, but I increased the fruit in the house and offer yogurt in the morning with a little granola. They eventually stopped thinking about the cereal and accepted it. I went on a paleo diet this summer and have lost a bunch of weight from just adjusting diet. So I thought it wouldn't hurt to incorporate a bit for the whole family. Nothing as extreme as my diet though, but little bits here and there. ;) Good luck!!

    I had the some concerns as you with my son, at the same age. I expressed my concerns to his doctor who assured me that as long as I was giving him healthy options to eat and limiting screen time it would change. And boy did it ever. In 7th grade he and all his friends shot up and thinned out. It made sense that they packed on that extra weight as they certainly needed it to fuel such rapid growth, so fast that he was outgrowing pants in the matter of 3 months. I remember picking him up from a birthday party in 7th grade and marveling at how every single boy there were wearing high waters. During that time of growth he was also more tired than usual. Just wait it out, with healthy options and setting a good example, and avoid saying stuff that can easily lead to him feeling bad about himself, his weight and his appearance. Eating disorders aren't just for girls.

    This may not be your situation, but I'll just note that I was worried about my own son getting a bit chubby in approximately this same age-range ... maybe 9-11 ... got a pudgy tummy etc ,... and I worried and wondered if I should do anything about it, but also really didn't want to introduce any body issues ... so I didn't do anything, and around age 12 my child started SHOOTING up with his growth spurt and quickly became very skinny. So I'm glad I kept my mouth shut. The one thing I did do is stop buying sugary drinks like orange juice and lemonade. I was always fighting with my kids to try to get them to moderate their consumption and then I finally realized, duh, *I'm* the one that is bringing this stuff into the house! When I stopped buying it, they got used to drinking water! Good luck.

  • I have a 5 year old daughter who inherited my body shape and with it the potential for weight issues.  She is not overweight but her weight percentages are steadily going up and she seems to be heading in that direction.  I fully understand that she is only 5 years old and I'm not planning to put her on a diet but I want to teach her healthy eating to try to keep her at a healthy weight.  I was a chubby kid and my mom helped me lose the weight as a preteen and keep it off.  Despite a tendency to be overweight I'm healthy and happy with my size ( I wear size 4 or 6) even after 2 pregnancies, but losing the weight as a preteen/teen was tough and I'm hoping if I can control her weight gain I can prevent my daughter from having to go through it.  She is already heavily into exercise and is very active with several sport activities, so this question is about food.  Because of her age, we don't call it diet but rather "healthy eating".  Do you have any books or blogs to recommend about healthy eating plans for a young child?  So far I've been doing the basics, i.e. focus on veggies and protein, and limiting sweets and carbs as much as possible but she hates getting meals like chicken and salad for lunch and/or dinner when all of her friends eat pasta and pizza pretty much daily.  I'm wondering if the books or blogs will have creative ideas about how to eat healthy but still in a way that is appealing to a 5 year old.  When I started watching my food I already knew about weight issues and was willing to put up with any limitations to lose the weight, but I don't want to present it in such a way to my 5 year old since I don't think she yet has the concept of weight.  I don't want to put these thoughts in her head and risk causing weight issues or her deciding on unhealthy diets on her own.  But I want her to eat healthy and to stop food from being a daily battle.  She eats plenty and good food but keeps asking for carbs and is rejecting the healthy eating argument since according to her pizza is healthy since all of her friends are eating it and are healthy too.  I'm hoping there are books, blogs, or other advice that can help.  I'm already leading by example but she likes her friends' food more than mommy's food.

    As someone who is good at weight control, I'd urge you to let your daughter eat pizza and pasta.  And eat some yourself, too!  In my experience, healthy eating habits allow you to have some treats, and pizza is not a bad one. Neither is pasta.  It's great to know what foods are healthier, and even better, to develop a liking for healthy foods, so you're on the right track there.  But, know that the key to weight control is portion control.   And if you tell someone they can't have any pizza, they'll eat an entire pie when they get the chance.  It's much better to just have a slice of pizza and a salad - that will not make her fat.  Oh -- and the other thing -- drink ONLY water! 

    As someone who has had her own weight issues as a teen and adult, I would suggest that you check in with your partner about this issue. Of course, you can't help but view your daughter through the lens of your experience. However, your child's other parent (or other trusted adult who knows you both) might be able to help with some perspective and moral support for you, and lend some objectivity to the situation.

    Also agree with the previous poster about portion control but that is *really* an adult concept that I personally would be very reluctant to get into with my 7 year old daughter, who, by the way, eats TERRIBLY despite me cooking healthy nutritious meals every night for dinner!

    I highly recommend you check out Ellyn Satter's books and the Satter Feeding Dynamics Model and Satter Eating Competence Model.

    I have the same worries, but your kid (like mine) has other genes besides yours, so she may not have the same experience as you.  To be safe, I make sure to serve mostly healthy meals like chicken, sweet potato, broccoli and salad.  I'm willing to swap out sweet potato for pasta, or meat + starch for pizza or potstickers every now and then, and I don't prohibit anything, I just focus more on whole foods at home, and make sure and load up on fruits in lunch boxes and veggies at dinner (e.g., have seconds of broccoli before seconds on pasta).  I also allow a small treat for dessert every night and my 10-year old daughter is great at taking some but not too much.  So I agree with posts that say don't withhold altogether.  And keep going with the sports - that's going to really help her.  I will say though, if your idea of being overweight is size 6 rather than size 4, you may have unrealistic expectations and I hope you don't pass those on to your daughter.  Plenty of women are bigger than that and perfectly healthy and NOT overweight.  My daughter is going to be taller and will certainly weigh more than me, so I'm not focusing on specific size or weight, just health and being in a normal range.

    I strongly, STRONGLY recommend that you read the work of Ellyn Satter. Start with Child of Mine and go from there; I know one of her books is specifically about the issue you are raising, but Child of Mine covers it as well. Ms. Satter is a pediatric dietitian who also previously worked as a psychotherapist (including treating many people with eating disorders), so her work incorporates concerns for both bodily and mental health. I am one of those moms who has read all the parenting books, and Child of Mine is without question the best one I've ever read. Please read it, and please take it to heart. All the best to you and your child. 

    I'm sure you'll get some good advice so I want to limit my response to one point - carbs. Carbs are not bad! Our brains need glucose to operate! So do our muscles! And kids who are naturally very physically active may need more carbs than you realize. You say your daughter is very active in sports - she needs carbs for that. If she eats a high protein/low carb diet she will get exhausted. Yes, we live in a culture that overdoes it on highly processed carbs - donuts, soda, French fries. These should not be staples of anyone's diet. But absent any health conditions that require a low carb diet, carbs are good and necessary - especially for kids. And yes, this includes some pizza. 

    I highly recommend Ellyn Satter on kids and food. Also think about asking your pediatrician for healthy food advice for your daughter. Good luck!

    It sounds like you mostly need to set consistent boundaries and stick to them. Stress a balanced diet (not "healthy" which may turn off your daughter from eating "healthy foods"). Let her have pizza for dinner occassionally, but not every night. Find healthy foods she likes and offer them often with a variety of other foods on the plate that she can get used to over time. Let her choose what to eat and not eat out of the selection you offered. Get rid of foods in the house that you don't want her to eat so that it isn't a battle. good luck. It is worth keeping your daughter healthy! 

    Hi! I recently  read a book that I would highly recommend for topics like this. It's called It's Not About The Broccoli. In general, I think the goal here is  to develop good eating habits, not necessarily to make sure she avoids all the bad stuff all the time. In my experience and the experience of lots of friends, it's pretty common for kids to go through a chubby phase in their life at some point.  But as long as they have developed good habits around eating and wellness in general, they will always come out of the chubby fphase. I too have thought about how I will be able to help my baby, he's only three months old now, develop good eating habits so he is enabled by his body, not hindered by it later in life. It's a delicate situation always, but I think it's important that we never demonize any kind of food or any kind of behavior… That would probably just bring  on shame and guilt. I recommend you give the book ta read! It has lots of great tips in there for how to transition kids that will only eat certain kinds of foods to be more open to eating other kinds of foods, and how you talk to your children about food and nutrition, etc. I think you'll like it! 

    All best,


    It's so great that you're approaching this thoughtfully, and recognizing that your choices could affect her relationship with food and body for the rest of her life.  I would highly recommend checking out the work of the Ellyn Satter Institute, which you can find out about here:  https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/

    This page talks about weight issues specifically: https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org/how-to-feed/prevent-and-treat-child...

    The issues with refined carbs will get worse as she gets older, the more you try to restrict.  Having worked with many adults with eating issues, I've heard tons of stories about how they ended up hiding forbidden food in their rooms, binging on them whenever they got the chance, feeling horrible about themselves as a result, and yet are unable to stop.  I know you don't want this for your child.  If you want her to stop obsessing about these foods, you need to offer them semi-regularly, without judgment, without talking about how good or bad they are, or anything about their nutritional properties.

    You could focus your efforts instead on giving her chances to enjoy other foods.  Let her help pick recipes.  Let her pick new fruits or vegetables to try from the grocery store.  Let her cook with you and try ingredients as you go.  Talk about the sensory properties of foods as you eat together.  Let her see you enjoying food, and not restricting yourself.  Let her see you appreciating your own body and not worrying about your weight.  Talk out loud about how you decide to stop eating when you feel comfortably full.  Ask her how she's feeling and don't offer any commentary besides a nod.  These are the things that will help her learn how to trust and listen to her internal cues.

    Restricting carbs isn't a good idea, kids need them for energy. Please don't project your issues onto your kid. A good rule of thumb is a carbohydrate (grain or fruit) and a protein together and lots of veggies and some good fats. (Recommended by my dietician.at Kaiser.)

    My husband and I go through this every day with our three kiddos. Fine writing: this might be unpopular and the books/resources listed below are effective if you want to get long term solutions. There's a shift of the mind involved and it takes a solid two weeks of hardcore and frustrating work.


    Robert Lustig (MD): Fat Chance. Dr. Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist who has spent the last thirty years focusing on metabolic diseases and the impact they have on how sugar (simple carbs, too) fuel diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and so on. This is an eye-opening book that shows the right kinds of fats are essential for children's developing mitochondria and that no matter where we look these days, even pricey chain stores promising "organic" everything, well, it's almost all the same once it hits our pancreas. Insulin responses don't discriminate when it comes to sugar. 

    The Big Fat Surprise by Nina Teicholz. Less preachy and more investigative than Dr. Lustig's book. Teicholz takes on the perception of fat and health foods. She shows us how we've been fooled. As a former vegan myself, with many issues during that era of my life, including leaky gut, GERD, migranes, skin issues galore and being told I was infertile by 3 fertility specialists, I knew something was off, but felt virtuous (and quite frankly a deep belief in caring for our world through a specific philosophy I still maintain but channel in other ways). This book came out a few years beyond my "way of eating" switch, but it clarified many questions I had, including The China Study, food/environment sustainability, good fats vs bad fats.

    French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billion. Don't read this book for specific answers; it acts as a guide to look at 'how' we eat. We are told to eat all day/every day. Actually we weren't designed to eat so often (we haven't yet evolved that way either...yet). My husband grew up in France and we take our kids there every year. Their cousins eat two meals - all with the family. It's a different world (at least for now, but the slow food mentality is slowly being taken over by the fast food mentality. Kind of a pun there...sorry about that).

    David Asprey has some good stuff. He works with his own kids to help them utilize their environment to work FOR them not against them. And he focuses on sleep. Sleep is a big mystery, even to doctors. I didn't even know that there's a layer of sleep beyond REM, which is where so much of our brain cells slough off and regenerate. Food is essential for a "good gut" (probiotics shouldn't be needed if the right foods are being consumed; in some cases, they have fillers, which work against obtaining a healthful gut). Your gut directly feeds your brain. You might find this to be relevant.

    My husband is an MD who works in a hospital. He sees, on average, 60 patients per day when he's working in this setting. He's grown tired of the fallacies he's required to convey to patients. When patients truly want to heal, they call him up and he'll help guide them to making nutrition/environment work FOR their health. Weight loss is the side effect. Apparently, we are one big chemical reaction; we change our hormones, we change our body shapes.

    g about patients...that at least 85% of what he sees when they are in the hospital (cardiology), is impacted by food and or alcohol.

    I wouldn't demonize any particular food (like pizza or pasta or sugar). Then it just becomes the forbidden fruit and even harder to resist.  But yes, of course, the less healthier things like pizza and treats should be eaten in moderation.  I also would practice not getting dragged into the "but everyone else is doing it" arguments. Just don't.  You will get variations on this throughout her life about all sorts of things, so start practicing now! :-) In our house, we just say, these are the rules in our house, and for our family. Period.  Have you talked to your daughter's pediatrician? or to a nutritionist?  I am a bit scared of more detailed advice about eating for a growing kid when none of us know your kid, or her current weight or food intake.   I applaud you for getting her into lots of activities.  Giving her a sense of what her body can do so that she can feel powerful and proud is probably a great way to start her down a road of loving her body and self as she grows, which has a huge impact on weight - and on our ability to love our bodies even when we are a few pounds over.

    Please just serve healthy food at home (and pack for lunch), but don’t talk about healthy eating anymore, bc it sounds like it’s just becoming code for your focus on her eating. I’m naturally petite(5’ and 95ish lbs) since high school sndvinto my thirties, even after 2 pregnancies. I wear a zero. Yet, I went through adolescence with insecurities about weight. I think it’s basically unavoidable on our culture if you’re a girl. So any layering on top of that by you and do early is unnecessary and probably will backfire. You can be healthy at different weights. And regarding pizza - we eat it all the time and tell my 5 year old daughter it’s gealthy because it is! We but those pizza dough balls from Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, put pasta sauce and mozzarella, then load them with vegetables. Just make sure every bite is chalk full of veggies. Our girl loves it. With a pizza stone, the crust is crispy and perfect. 

    How about getting a spiralizer and making "pasta out of things like sweet potatoes and squash? How about making pizza at home using fresh ingredients, maybe even from a local farm? I'd strongly urge that you try and make food fun. Deprivation isn't a long term strategy for adults, nevermind children.

    And I agree with others here - carbs aren't bad, they are necessary for healthy growth and functioning.

    Best to you, Mama!

    Speaking as a person who lost a lot of weight and is still in a weight-loss support group, I emphasize where you are coming from - despite the success you have had with building healthy habits, you still see yourself as the overweight person you were... you fear going back and you fear even more that your daughter will go down that road too. To give you reassurance, you should try to realize that your daughter actually sees the healthy habits that you have now, and the healthy person.  This means that she is not going to just automatically repeat the cycle that you were on - and that is a great thing.

    But, here's the thing - right now, you are projecting your fear onto her, and you should try to figure out now how to let go of that. Because as she senses your fear about her weight, she is going to pick up on that and internalize that.  Keep in mind that a 5-year-old is way to young to have "weight issues." Yes, kids love pizza and junk, and yes, kids go through phases of being chubby or skinny, but the issue is YOURS, not hers. 

    I am sure you are going to get a lot of other suggestions about nutrition, etc. for a 5-year-old, but my main suggestion is about MINDSET. You need to get your "house in order," and find a way to embrace the new you so that you can positively project a healthy, happy attitude to your own eating habits and body image, so that your daughter benefits from that. Right now, you are projecting fear about eating and weight, which your daughter will absorb.  You were able to make positive change in your own life, figure out how to teach THAT in a positive to your child, as that is a great gift. Best wishes to you!

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How to help 6 yr old lose weight?

March 2007

My daughter has always been a large child, at the top of the scale in both height and weight. She recently turned 6 and is becoming self-conscious and unhappy about her weight. It upsets us to hear her call herself fat. She is not technically ''overweight'' since her weight is still on the chart and is proportional to her height, but she has quite a lot of extra weight around her midsection. We have talked to the pediatrician, and his advice was not to worry about it, that she will grow into her weight. We've been waiting for that to happen for a few years now, but it always seems that a growth spurt in height is accompanied by an equal increase in weight. I would like to help her lose weight now, before it really starts to affect her self-esteem. I welcome any advice from those who have dealt with this issue on what was successful. Our current plan is to provide healthy foods, very limited sweets or treats (although we can't control what she has access to at school or her after-school program), encourage her to be active and limit passive activities such as TV watching. I just don't know if this will be enough, or if we have to go farther and actually limit the amount we let her eat. She has a big appetite and will eat a huge amount at dinner if we let her - all healthy foods, but still, it seems like a huge amount of food for a six year old. Advice on what has worked for others is greatly appreciated. Concerned Mom

Please don't put your six year old girl who is not ''technically'' overweight on a diet! If you want to help her self-esteem, let her know how beautiful she is just the way she is. I think giving her healthy choices for her food and encouraging a healthy amount of exercise is fine, but please don't restrict her calories when she's not overweight! In my opinion, you will do far more damage than good if you encourage her to diet when she's already at a healthy weight, just because her tummy isn't perfectly flat. Diane

Hi Mom... I, like you, became concerned when my 5 year old started showing annual weight gains of nearly 20 pounds a year! He is now 8 years old and over the past 3 years he has put on 60 lbs. When he was 5 his doctor wrote in his checkup book ''Don't worry about his weight'' By the time he was 7 I was insisting on some intervention! I saw a nutritionist who urged me NOT to put him on a diet, but to offer him better food choices, smaller portions, less carbs, more proteins, etc.

I thought I was modifying his choices, but his weight continuted to climb. Finally last fall he weighed 126 lbs. and I insisted on seeing an endcronologist. We began meeting with Dr. Bhatia of Children's Hospital Endocronology. I wanted to rule out anything medical. While she found nothing 'wrong' with him, she and the nutritionist helped me realize was that I needed to help him control portions, understand when is body was satisfied and help him become more active. We began taking walks after dinner and I limited his sedentary activities as well as started seving smaller portions. I helped him understand that he didn't have to eat until his tummy hurt (he thought that was the sign that he was full, not overly-full).

Just tonight (it's his birthday today!) we went out to dinner and a bit more than halfway through his meal he told me he could tell he was feeling full, so should stop eating, and offered me the 2nd half of his birthday ice cream. I was SO proud of him.

At his checkup with the endocronologist last month I was thrilled to learn that while his height had increased, his weight was showing a leveling out. From his last checkup with his pediatrician in March of 2006, to his weigh-in last month, he has only put on 8 pounds!

My point in telling you all this is that there are a lot of us who worry about our children's weight, but putting a young child on a diet is dangerous. Helping them make healthy choices, aiding them in controlling their portions, helping them learn to listen to their body, and participating with them in physical activity will all go towards hopefully helping them help themselves learn better habits. I was quite overweight as a child, but am now a size 6 and careful about what I eat. He sees me making healthy choices, and I talk about why I can't have a treat everyday, so I am leading by example putting my money (or my food!) where my mouth is; literally!

Anyway, I hope this gives you the strength to investigate what might be contributing toward your daughter being overweight, and know that a diet isn't suitable for a 6 year old. I wish you all the best. I know how hard and emotional this is, cause I'm still there. Another mom who worries!

When I read your post, I almost started to cry. I was five when my parents put me on my first diet and started a cycle that is still with me at 35. I was a healthy, robust, and larger child. I have no doubt that had I been left to grow on my own I would have been healthy regardless of my size. Instead, my parents' efforts at ''helping'' me backfired and led to a lifetime of disordered eating that I have only normalized in the past several years. I am sure that dieting (or ''eating healthy'' because we all know that whatever we call it, restricted eating is a diet) impacted my developing body in negative ways and I know it was psychologically damaging. I understand wanting your daughter to be healthy, and, it sounds like she is, you should continue to encourage that. I also understand that you do not want your daughter to get teased. Kids tease and if it isn't about weight, it will be something else. Rather than trying to have your daughter change her body to avoid this teasing, the best thing you can do for your daughter is to help her feel comfortable in her body as it is. If she gets the message that you think she needs to change her body, you might as well be saying that the teasing children are right. If you are interested, check out bodypositive.com. anon

We live a very sedentary lifestyle today compared to even a generation ago and we seem reluctant to just let our kids go out and run around and play after school like we used to do when I was a kid. I would discourage anything that would make your child feel there is anything wrong with their appearance, but I would increase the number of active things you do with your child. You both will feel healthier and you may even lose some weight and tone up too. Last night I was running at the track and saw two mommies with their daughters of about 5 or 6 jogging around the track! I have entered my 6 and 10 year old with me in a 5K race and we walk and jog it together. We also go to the park and play tag around the play structures; red light, green light in the park and pool, etc. Have fun and the fitness and weight loss will come. Also, have healthy snacks like carrot sticks available. Encourage drinking lots of water rather than juices and eating lots of fruits (and veggies if you can get them to eat them...). Try to cut out fast foods. They are full of fats and salt. Good luck and email me if you would like any further info or support. kl

My son was also at the top of the charts for many years, starting at his birth. In fact, he was off the chart at times. I was most concerned as I was always a plump little girl and grew into a plump woman, with all the societal disapproval that comes with this in America. What I did: never limited food, but just had healthy stuff around, including lots of salad and finger food. If you can always start off your meal with salad or carrot and celery sticks, this will partly fill her up before she gets to the meat and potatoes.

But the main thing I did was to make sure my kid was as active as possible. This involved me playing more whiffle ball, etc. than I really wanted to, but it paid off. Note that I didn't just encourage him to be more active, I ensured he's be active by playing with him. Now he is a lean and muscular teenager and after going through the usual adolescent rebellion of eating as much junk food as he could, he's showing signs of wanting to eat more healthily. Good Luck. Dianna

Please see a Registered Dietitian who works with children, for some advice. Please read Ellyn Satter's books. Please don't limit the amount of food your daughter can eat at dinner. Most 6 year olds, especially if their weight is ''on the chart'' don't need to lose weight. Is she following the same weight percentile year after year? It just may be her shape. It is recommended that they gain more slowly through the lifestyle changes that you are talking about. Keep junk food out of the house; have the whole family make these changes. health professional

7 year old being teased for her weight

Oct 2006

My nearly 7 year old daughter has received comments lately (all in the past few months) about her weight. She has a slight tummy, but has been to the pediatrician and is exactly where she's supposed be on the charts. We eat healthy (lots of organic fruits and veggies), get exercise, don't eat fast food and don't watch television. I know that kids can say cruel things. I just don't know how to respond to the comments she has received. A little girl who is a ''friend'' told her she was fat and just today a kid at school called her a ''pig'' and said she eats too much. I don't know many people to turn to for advice. I told my daughter she is just the right size and she should be proud of how she takes care of her healthy body. Any sage advice out their in bringing up girls with a strong, healthy body image? Thanks so much anonymous

Hi. One of my sons is slightly overweight too (and we're like you, we eat organic foods and watch the food intake but that's just his body type) and when he's been teased and he tells me what kids say to him, I ask him, ''Do we ever call you those names?'' And he says, ''No.'' Then I say, ''Well, then, it doesn't matter what those *people* say because it's not important.'' That seems to make sense to him and it rolls off his back. One of his favorite songs is BEAUTIFUL by Christina Aguilera, a song we sing together that makes him feel so much better. Maybe you can hear it with your daughter as you wrap your loving arms around her. Good luck! mommy of chubby one too

I have a fat belly. What works best for me is dealing with it head-on, directly or humorously. Never shying away or being embarrassed. I like to tell people I have a jolly belly, and all jolly bellies are round! I say this with a big smile and then there's no tension about my fatness. Most people chuckle. It just IS, and it erases any bit of a problem. (I'd rather have a jolly belly than a starving, unhappy belly) All for health and self-love

Doctor concerned about 18-mo-old's weight

Sept 2006

My husband took our daughter to her 18 month check-up. First let me say that our daughter has always been in the ninety percentile for weight her entire life. She is a tofu, veggie, fruit, cheese eating, soymilk drinker that is very active and happy. She still nurses and loves it (not that often - more when she's sick or fussy). We do not give her refined or processed foods - no twinkies or ho ho's. So I was surprised when the doctor showed concern about her weight and suggested we see a nutritionist (my daughter weighs 30lbs at the office - 29 at home. She is 33 inches long and head measures, I think, 18 1/2 or 19 inches). She said this was the time to start worrying about weight. My husband and I were both big babies - I always thought she fit right in.

I feel insulted and mad. She's planted this seed (especially in my husbands head) that we do not feed her properly, when I know we do. I would like to hear what other people think. Is this a big deal? Should I calm down and go to the nutritionist just to hear what I know already? concerned mom

Calm down and go to the nutritionist - then next time the doctor tells you your Dh is overweight, you can tell her the nutritionist said you are feeding her fine. I'd also recommend you get another doctor - you should be able to have a dialogue with your pediatrician marga

How about finding another doctor ? It sounds like your present doc has very different views about weight and nutrition than you and the match is not a good one. RK

I wouldn't worry about it especially if both you and your husband were both large babies. My daughter is two and loves to eat and like you I feed her fruits, veggies, whole grains, soymilk, tofu etc. At her two year old well-check appointment she was in the 80th percentile for weight and the 18th for height. The doctor wasn't concerned and said not to worry about it now as she will probaly become more proportional since she is very active and eats a healthy diet. My son was rolly polly as a baby and he is now a string bean. Enjoy her while she still has baby fat because they change so quickly! Berkeley Mom

I'm not a nutritionist and my only child is younger than yours so I'm totally unqualified to give advice, but here's my opinion anyway: as long as your daughter is eating a nice variety of nutritious foods and enjoying the eating experience, it's totally inappropriate to try to control her weight or what she eats. She knows what she needs to eat, and you don't want to interfere with her own ability to regulate her eating. By telling her she needs to eat less or only certain foods, you could set her up for a lifetime of eating problems. I say, go with your gut feeling that her eating is fine. Keep eating guilt-free

My son was off the charts for most of his babyhood. I still remember the relief I felt when he was about 3 and he finally was on the chart, albeit 99th percentile in weight. All this time he was about 50th percentile in height. Fortunately, none of his doctors ever worried much about this and how he's a lean and muscular 16 year old.

Of course with all the latest concern/hysteria about youth obesity, I can see why your son's doctor brought it up. But the fact is, some kids just grow differently at first than other kids. I was odd and not fitting the norm at all in the way I gained weight during pregnancy myself, so I wasn't too concerned. I think if you outline for the doctor what you feed the child, and discuss exercise a little, then maybe you can get him/her to reach the conclusion that there is no real need for concern here. Good luck Dianna

It's hard not to take comments like these personally, because heaven knows we as parents are doing the best we can for our kids and for anyone in a position of medical authority to suggest anything to the contrary is really hard to hear. Believe me, after dealing with my son's serious excema and unsuccessfully trying all kinds of prescription and homeopathic methods, his no-nonsense allergist reduced me to tears in the doctors' office when she seemingly implied that I wasn't trying hard enough!

Maybe your doctor is thinking that BECAUSE you are feeding her all the 'right foods' and your daughter is in the upper percentile for weight, she just wants to confirm that you have a naturally 'big' baby and there's nothing else going on. Since you did say you wanted to hear what other people think, it couldn't hurt to see the nutritionist. Maybe the nutritionist will confirm your initial thoughts and vindicate your feelings toward your daughter's doctor.

(BTW, once I calmed myself down and took the allergist's suggestions for dealing with my son's excema, his skin cleared within two weeks--her approach worked better than any other treatment method we had been experimenting with for over two years.) A mom

I have a 9 mo. old boy who is already 22 lbs. and is 29.5'' tall. He's in the 90th percentile, and his doctor is not at all concerned. I'm sure by 18mo. (9 months from now) he too will be at the 30lb. mark pretty easily. His doctor was not at all concerned, and I realize my baby is much younger than yours, but I can't see why this would be a problem that she's in a higher percentile. If you and your husband were both big babies (as opposed to obese babies), then I'm not sure what the problem is. I know our pediatrian is more concerned that our son is proportionate more than anything else (i.e. his weight and height are in the same percentile, or if not, then that his height is in a higher percentile than his weight instead of the other way around). I would probably talk to the doctor in greater detail, explain your daughter's current diet/nutrition, ask what percentile her height falls is (if it is the same or close to the percentile for her weight), and then ask why it's a problem. Does he think it's indicative of some other problem? I'd also consider seeing a different pediatrian for another opinion Mom of a big baby too

I'm so sorry to hear that you have been made to feel anxious about your baby's health. I checked back in our little medical book to see what our son's weight/height was at 18 months since he is a strong little guy (he's now two years old). He weighed 33 pounds and was 34 1/4 inches long, so his body was very similar to your baby's. My advice would be to trust yourself and your childrearing choices. Our pediatrician has always understood that our son is going to be high if not off the growth charts (my husband is 6 feet 5 inches), and she has never passed judgement about what we are or aren't doing in terms of nutrition. She thinks he is perfect, and I'm sure your daughter is, too. I think it's too bad that your ped is encouraging you to make some changes that might negatively impact your daughter's health or self-esteem ... it's too young to start with a message that she isn't good enough. She'll be faced with that soon enough without starting it now. Keep doing what you're doing ... and maybe think about sharing your thoughts with your doctor so you can still work together. Good luck! Anon

If your child's height and weight are measuring more or less at the same percentile, then I wouldn't worry about her weight so much either. Meantime, don't be insulted by your doctor's comment. Your doctor doesn't have all the information you have about what your child eats and how much she eats. As you say, I would view it as a nice opportunity to see a nutritionist and ask any random food questions you might have. The nutritionist likely will applaud you for your child's excellent diet. You can then bring that back to the pediatrician and your husband to reassure them both that all is well. I have big babies too

I disagree with your doctor about weight being an issue at this point. If your baby is healthy and active it seems crazy to me to worry about her weight! However, I do agree that it would be a good idea to see a nutritionist. There is evidence that soymilk can be harmful, causing premature puberty, aluminum toxicity and other problems. It is a highly processed food and I never understood why it was considered a ''health food''. I assume that your family is vegetarian? It would be a good idea to get alternatives to soymilk and tofu anonymous

My concern would be about the quantity of soy in your daughters diet, not her weight. Is it possible that is what your doctor was worried about? Perhaps you know the concerns about soy & feel ok about feeding it to your daughter? From what I understand kids are ok if they stay in their track -- ie, weight in the 90 percentiles, height in the 80's etc good luck

I don't have any expert advice to give you, just the experience/perspective of another family. I will admit that I subscribe to the idea that at this age, kids (barring any physical and/or emotional problem, but you don't seem to be dealing with that kind of situation)can and should decide the amount of food they eat. I believe the parent should provide healthy choices and the child should decide how much they will eat and when. So thats where Im coming from as I offer you our experience.

We have a 15-month-old boy who is about (I can't quite remember)27 pounds and 34 inches long. That doesn't sound too far off from your child. Our Doctor, Dr. Bean, has never ever been concerned about his weight. In fact, he knows that we intentionally choose high-fat healthy options when possible (like greek yogurt instead of regular whole or low-fat and putting a tablespoon of flax oil in his cereal every morning) to make sure that he is getting enough fat in his diet (he usually eats veggies, fruit, and whole grains, which have basically no fat). So, from another mom, our kids sound about the same size and we have never been told that there is a concern, nor do we think there is. (continued below) genevieve

A couple things to consider - Do you trust your doctor in general? Because I think that you can put up with a dentist you don't completely like, but I feel like you should LOVE your pediatrician and really have trust for them. Also, I wonder if the fact that you have a daughter and I have a son has anything to do with this. As screwed up as it is, it seems like social acceptability for boys to be big starts when they are infants (we have gotten many nods of approval during his life from strangers ''wow, he's a big boy!'' and its been clear to me that if he was a girl this size, people wouldn't make these comments). My son also has a huge head (I say this with love!). So, his body doesnt actually look big at all - his legs are little, his belly is round like all toddlers, his thighs and arms dont have rolls. Naked, he actually looks kind of slender. I think a lot of is weight is in his big head.:). Anyways, I just wonder if you your Doctor is concerned based on what she looks like? To me, this would be wholly inapprporiate.

About your specific question - sure, go to the nutritionist and see what she has to say. Can't hurt. Maybe there will be some helpful advice. Maybe not. Then, make the choice you feel is right for you and your kid and your family. I already put our apporach above so I wont repeat it, but if your kid is getting healthy choices, I say let her eat! genevieve

well somebody had to be in the 90th percentile right? I don't think that in and of itself it a concern. what Docs are supposed to keep track of is if there are any relatively sudden chnges in the way your child tracks with the growth chart so if she's always been big and sudden decline in the rate of her growth would be a concern. or if she went completely off the chart. since she's active and normal in other ways and consistent with her parents' growth patterns at that age, there's probably no reason for concern. if the doc wants you to visit a nutritionist and it's convenient - what's the harm? You might learn something, it might be interesting but don't fret too much about it, your instincts are probably correct anon

Help: overweight 8-year-old & working mom

August 2006

Hi all, I have an 8 year old who is about 10 pounds overweight. It is mostly on her belly and she is just gaining at a rapid pace. I am trying to instill the idea of healthy balanced food/activity but just talking is not getting us anywhere. If I were a stay at home mom, I would be taking her to sports practices or gyms or dance ... but I work until 6 pm. Her school does not offer anything like that, so ... what do people do? I live in Richmond/el cerrito area. Please no lectures about body image and the media. I just want advice about how to get her to be a more active and strong and slow down the growth rate. You working parents out there, what do you do? Thanks want to get moving

hi, sounds like this is stressing you out! it is very difficult to manage everything in life when you're a parent who works outside of the home - one of the things that can go down the drain is shopping mindfully and cooking.

my thesis is that we are all set up to ''fail'' because the majority of foods available in a mainstream large supermarket are not good for you and foods for kids are not good in particular.

you have to limit her access to bad foods and snacks - as much as you have to try to encourage exercise and activity - you can't walk or jump off a happy meal. however, this could be challenging given her age and you not being home - but try to do it without making it a power or control thing, it just so happens all you have to snack on are bananas and apples, not chips or frozen pizza. limit juice to one a day and the rest is water.

that also means you have to shop more often - which again is a burden when you work outside of the home - well when you work at home/from home too!

maybe you two can take a walk together when you get home in the evenings to talk about each other's days - that gets you and her out of the house, away from the TV and other stressors (phone or whatever) and you can bond.

we try and make the most of your weekends by doing active activities - good luck and keep trying

start with overhauling your cupboards-just don't buy her trigger foods. Keep the carrot sticks, apples slices around as snacks,(they even have mini packets already done) low-fat popcorn, rice cakes etc.( cookies are highly over-rated.) I buy a bag of frozen chicken breast thaw-throw the whole thing in ziploc bag with a packet of GRILL CREATIONS/GRILL MATES seasoning packets. Pam on the pan and dinner is on the way. a bag of salad and a little rice/roll etc. and you're good to go. a recent study on kids blamed too much ''TO GO'' food as providing too big of portions and too much fat. Grab a workout video for kids(hip hop/disney) and make it mom and me time.go for a walk after dinner and hustle around on the weekend-check out some trails, the park and make sure there is as little as possible passive time(TV/ video/computer) If she balks explain that you want to help her be strong and healthy. Its not a weight thing but a lifestyle. ''big boned'' mom-healthy kids

It sounds like the school could encourage some sort of activity during the 2-3 hours she's there in afterschool. What about hoolahoops, jump ropes, four-square? None require much equipment or space.

A fun nightly activity could be to blast some music in your living room and have a family dance party for a few minutes before dinner. I'm sure you're all hungry but this should be a great way for everyone to relax and have fun.

I'm studying to be a nutritionist but it doesn't sound like you're worried about what she's eating. If you want some basic tips in that area, please let me know. virginia

Does your daughter attend one of the El Cerrito public schools? The City of El Cerrito afterschool care at Castro and Harding offers some of its afternoon programs to kids at these facilities and transports them to and from the community center. Last year there was gymnastics and swimming. There are also Saturday swimming classes at the El Cerrito community pool. You and your daughter can also go for walks in the evening --a mom

2 quick suggestions: For one thing you can cut out juice entirely, except on special occaisions. Kids don't need juice; water and milk are fine. If she really likes juice, see if she will accept orange juice. When you do give juice boxes, make sure they do not contain ''high fructose corn syrup''. This ingredient is bad news in a lot of ways. You can find juice boxes without it at regular stores, but you have to read the ingredient labels.

Suggestion #2 for exercise: Dance jams! I'm not talking some event at a club, I mean in your kitchen or living room. My kids absolutely love to put on the disco, funk, or salsa music and dance around with me. It is fun and we are both getting exercise.

If you have the space, you can also get a small trampoline (about 3' around) that kids love to jump on and increases the exercise level.

Oh I just remembered another thing: to keep fruits and vegetables in the house, you can get them delivered by companies like Bay Area Organic Express (The BOX).

Good luck! trying to be more active and healthy myself

I just now read your posting, you don't say whether or not your daughter eats her lunch from the school cafetaria. My son was in a school for many years that did not have a cafetaria, so I packed him a lunch everyday. Last year he started a new school and I let him eat his lunch at school, because as a working mom it made it easier on me. Well, my son gained 16 pounds in one year and I have to believe it was from the school food. He is a very active boy and he usually gains a couple of pounds a year. Even if he had a normal growth spurt, it would not been more than 6 pounds. Looking at the ''nutritional value'' of the food (you can find this usually online), every lunch had and average calorie count of 650, and 30 grams of fat. I myself am a life time member at weight watchers and if I would eat the school food, all I could probably have is one meal a day and a couple of (healthy snacks). No wonder our nation's children are getting heavier and heavier! another working mom

Out of Control Eating in 10 year old daughter

Jan 2006

I have a 10 year old daughter who loves to eat and never seems to realize when she is full. She is 10-15 lbs overweight, and seems to carry it all in her stomach.

My concern is that her continual overeatting will cause her to become obese. She doesn't like to eat green vegetables, but instead focuses on all the white foods (macoroni and cheese, breads, potatoes, etc). I try to get her to make healthy choices, and we don't keep ''junk'' food at home, but when she is away from me she eats large quantities of sugar treats and refined flour products. She is not an intrinsically active child, although with my encouragement she plays soccer and basketball.

Lastly, her internal motor seems to always be running in overdrive. She talks fast and constantly, and is a bit intense. I am at my wits end and afraid that her overeatting is spiralling out of control. Help!! Concerned Mom

Hi. I realize I don't know you or your daughter, let alone your history together, but I had to respond to your post. 10-15 pounds isn't a huge amount of weight for a girl that age. She may be going through that pudgy stage girls go through a little earlier than you might have anticipated. Maybe you never had a pudgy stage growing up. Each girl is different.

I know from personal experience that eating the ''white'' foods you mentioned does make me crazy (talking fast, chatter brain) and that those ''white'' foods break down into sugar twice as fast as a healthier version of that food. Sugar does make our brains go much faster.

I would encourage you to try to talk to your daughter about whatever is on her mind. If you are overly concerned about your daughter's eating, weight, your daughter is going to pick up on that and internalize your concerns into a ''personal problem'' and that can have a very negative effect on how your daughter sees her self as a person as well as her body.

I have belonged to a 12 step program for people that are recovering from eating disorders of all kinds for over 10 years. Our members are primarily women and we come from all walks of life. We may be anorexic, bulemic, or compulsive overeaters. Our eating disorders almost always have a congenital compenent. However, most people's stories include having a distorted view of our bodies.

Now I'm speaking for myself. As the daughter of a mother who is a compulsive overeater, anorexic and bulemic, I was 10-15 lbs. heavier than I ''should'' have been at various points in my adolescence. My mother's constant ''concern'' and ''interest'' in my eating behaviors, weight, and body size had a very negative effect on my self esteem as well as how I saw my body.

Please, please, please, take your concerns about your daughter's weight to a therapist. Gratefully recovering member of Oveaters Anonymous

Adrenarche, getting ready for menarche, can be a time when children develop strong appetites. Key to building a healthy body, however, is good food choices. You might use the 80/20 concept to ensure she gets the best possible foods 80% of the time. This would mean being a better gate keeper and not a cafeteria. A really good book to get to improve the feeding relationship with your child is HOW TO GET YOUR KIDS TO EAT...BUT NOT TOO MUCH by Ellyn Satter. While I disagree with her suggested dietary choices, I do think she nailed it with the division of responsibility between parent and child: you choose the foods and meal times and she chooses whether to eat and how much. By withholding food, experiments show children gained weight. For the underweight child, force feeding caused continued weight loss. So it isn't simply portion size. Having relaxed meals without argument, having her participate in preparation, camoflaging vegetables in tasty sauces and soups, visiting the farmer's markets, watching cooking shows, trying new recipes, having a garden where she can freely graze, all can support her better relationship to food.

Now is the time to help her make good choices that will set her up for life. Rewards will backfire, Satter warns, so simply offer enough variety and encourage a bite of a new or green food each time one is served. It may take 7-20 attempts to get a new food down, but eventually, if the palate is not corrupted by refined foods, she will find some enjoyable. Nori Hudson, NC

My sister had a similar problem with her child and ended up taking her to counselor. That seemed to do the trick, as they discovered (and this certainly isn't always the case) that the child was eating from anxiety associated with problems in my sistera and brother-in-law's marriage. Caitlin was talking a mile a minute and very hyped for about a year. My sister took her to a therapist in Rockridge named Rebecca Lueck. She is an LCSW ad can be reached at 415 235-1071. My sister and daughter still see her (both indidually). Alternatively, you could try to cut out the tv. My sister was told that is correlated with childhood weight problems. Good luck! Brenda

You have probably already considered this but how about having her visit a nutritionist ? It would be someone other than you letting your daughter know the importance of good nutrition and proper portion sizes. It might also take some pressure off of you having to remind your daughter about food and eating. - anon

Please look into Ellyn Satter's books. She is both a dietitian and therapist and works with helping children and parents sort thru all their feelings around eating and feeding. Her advice is very concrete: do not restrict your child's eating; she will only eat more. Do not allow grazing. Offer 3 meals and a set number of snacks, and she gives ideas for balancing the foods that you offer. another mom

Please please don't ignore this or hope it will get better. I highly recommend Laurel Mellin's programs. I believe she has a children's program also. www.thepathway.org. Their approach is to give tools for emotional issues, to teach self-nurturing and setting limits. Please look at underlying causes like depression and anxiety. It took me to mid-adulthood to figure this out. I sure wish someone had been able to help me identify things earlier!! Anon


15 month daughter overweight

Nov 2005

My daughter is 15 months old. She LOVES to eat. She will eat and eat and eat. We only give her healthy foods like fruits, veggies, dairy, protein, etc. She doesn't like sweets or ''garbage'' at all. However, the volume of food that she eats is A LOT! And when she was a little baby, I noticed that she would drink and drink formula and SCREAM when she finished the bottle because she always wanted more. She never seemed satieted.

Now, at 15 months old, she is in the 75th percentile for head circumference and height, but she is literally off the charts for her weight. She is almost 28 pounds.

The doctor gave me some guidelines to follow for her portions and wants me to come back for a ''weight check'' in a month. I've been reducing her portion size to an appropriate amount for the past few days and she screams and cries for more. It is killing me. I am not sure what to do. Any thoughts?? Is it possible that my daughter can't regulate the amount she needs to eat to feel satisfied? Does this mean she will be an overeater for her lifetime?

I am petite and my husband is normal sized. It is so strange that I am having to watch the amount my 15 month old eats.

congratulations on having a healthy, happy baby who eats well! at 28 pounds, your daughter is just barely 'off the charts'- for 15 months, 95th percentile is about 27.5 pounds. and I'm sure you'll have a lot of people tell you those charts are BS, anyway. so many babies are chubby & then 'lean out' as they start to run, climb, etc. more, plus weight gain tapers off. my daughter was 25 pounds at 15 months... now she is 3 & a slender 33 pounds. as long as you are listening your baby's hunger cues (ie not force feeding her)& giving her nutritious food, she'll be fine! virginia

I have a friend who when she was a baby was just a roll of fat. Literally she was round as a ball. Her parents fed her very healthy foods which you say you do as well but it was just that she ate a lot. She still eats a lot actually but when I met her at age 14 she was (and is now) 5'6 120lbs! If I were you I wouldn't worry about it at all. Tell your doctor you're not ready for your 15 month old to have an eating disorder!! perfectly healthy

Check out the book ''Child of Mine, Feeding with Love and Good Sense'' by Ellyn Satter. She also wrote ''How to get your Kids to eat...But not too much'' I cannot recommend the first book more, I havent seen the second. N.

Hi, I feel for you! Who wants to start introducing weight consciousness to a toddler? It seems like an emotional minefield. I can't say whether or not your daughter has an organic issue, but I do think that a generation ago this wouldn't have been on the doctor's radar in the same way, and that's worth noting. Our adult obsession with weight is trickling down, sometimes in positive ways, sometimes in unhealthy ways, to our kids. I do want to note that one of the plumpest toddlers I knew - a girl whose parents were both fit and trim - has grown into a 6'1'', 140-lb. high school senior. She is incredibly well- proportioned, fit, athletically slim and attractive. I think her body was saving up nutrients to make its big push upward! Maybe your daughter has similar plans? Nancy

The doctor I saw as a child retired last year so I ordered copies of all my records. Looking over my files, I noticed that at 6mos they wrote ''obese'' in my chart. I can't remember what I weighed, but I couldn't believe that classification could be applied to an 6 mo old. Anyway, my mom said she didn't worry about it, and I'm happy to report that I was not an overweight child or adult. amy

Read Ellyn Satter's most recent book! I believe it is called ''your child's weight.'' She is both a dietitian and a therapist specializing in the ''eating relationship.'' The more you try to restrict your child's eating, the more she may try to eat, leading exactly to the problem you are trying to avoid. Ellyn's guideline is: the parent is in charge of when and what to eat; the child is in charge of how much. Let your child enjoy her meals and grow the way she is meant to grow. Children have amazing wisdom about being full and hungry, not like adults who can be influenced by so many things. another mom

Overweight four-year-old

August 2003

My daughter is four and this past year put on a lot of weight. She is now almost sixty pounds and I feel like I need to take control of this before she gets any heavier. I would like to create a diet that could be for her and the family too. Can someone recommend a dietition, some easy reciepes that would help her drop some pounds, some advice on this? I want to approach this situation with sensitivity and in a practical way, as not to create any shame around eating for her. Thanks for your time.

Hi. I read your post and told myself I had to respond. I'd like to recommend a wonderful, caring,thoughtful and an amazingly knowledgable dietician by the name of Judith Levine. Judith consults via the American Heart Association in San Francisco. I met Judith in 1987 and with her support and my determination over the course of time I lost weight. She helps people understand how to approach food, food choices along with incorporating excercise. She promotes a life balance and realism into the process because there is alot to juggle in life. Overtime it becomes a natural way of living and a lifestyle change that you adopt (and adapt) too. I say this because I realized that my (bad) food choices as an adult were developed at a very young age and through her did I make a connection. I say this because now we have 20 month old identical twin boys and we are much more cognizant with regards to preparing food, choosing food, and making choices when out at restaraunts. One of Judith's passions is children and she wrote a book regarding the subject of children and weight loss. It's called Helping Your Child Loose Weight The Healthy Way: A Family Approach to Weight Control. Here is a link to a brief writeup. http://www.kaiserpermanente.org/medicine/permjournal/fall02/weigh t.html. Her contact info is: 120 Montgomery, Suite 1650, SF. 415- 273-5606. I think it would be worth arranging some sessions with her. I just can't say enough about how she changed my life. She is worth every penny and more!! I wish you and your family the best. Please let me know how it goes. Hilary

Children often go through periods where they bulk up, then slim down as they move through growth spurts. Therefore, it can be difficult to know what is a weight problem and what is normal growth. Genetics can also play a strong role in children's weight, even though our society would like us to believe that we should all be tall and thin. Many people are above the national average in weight (and I'm talking average, not societal anorexic ideal) and still in great health. If a child is reasonably active, chances are they are not overweight. If they are very sedentary, that is another issue, but one better addressed by increasing physical activity, not changing diet.

My suggestion would be to read a book called Like Mother, Like Daughter: How Women Are Influenced by Their Mother's Relationship With Food and How to Break the Pattern. There are specific tips for dealing with food and exercise as a family. I found this book to be tremendously helpful. Good luck. non-dieter

I think it's great that you want to help your daughter and the rest of your family live a healthy life. And that's the way I would phrase it if asked. Don't talk about the weight and do talk about how much you love her and think she's wonderful. A few simple rules that often help:
1. Turn off the TV/video games/movies. Either get rid of them for at least a month, or give her coupons that she can use for 15 minutes of screen time to average 30-60 minutes daily maximum.
2. Make sure she gets at least an hour of exercise, really running around, getting sweaty, having fun (this is great to do as a family).
3. Get rid of all simple carbohydrates in the house (no juice/soda/koolaid, cookies, crackers, candy, cakes, white flour products). Go very light on pasta or buy whole wheat pasta.
4. Avoid high-fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils like the plague.
5. Don't give her nonfat stuff, either lowfat or whole fat yogurt, milk, etc. The nonfat tends to be higher on sugar and doesn't fill you up.
6. Make sure that every meal or snack has some protein and some fruit or vegetable. 3 meals and 2-3 snacks usually do it at this age.
7. When you use fat, for cooking or dipping veggies, etc., try to use olive oil (or butter), not margarine.
8. Get her involved in cooking, and teach her some good nutrition principles. Sorry I don't have a name of a dietitian to give you but I think it's a good idea to work with one. good luck! MamaMD

In the off-chance that this may apply: after my chunky four year old was put on asthma meds he became much more active and quickly lost weight. I hope that this is helpful. Amazon Mom

Weight loss group for overweight 9-year-old

July 2002

I have a 9 year old daughter who is overweight and has gained probably a good 25 pounds in the last 6 months. We had tried the Weight Watchers approach but she does not want to have to write everything down and does not want to have to keep points. I myself am overweight and dealing with my own issues about weight. Unfortunately I haven't been a great role model and have been hard on her. I wanted to know if anyone knows of any weight loss groups for kids that I could take her to. Any leads would be great. Thanks Obesity

Weight loss is often not necessary for growing children, the goal can be to ''grow into'' their weight, that is, maintain until their height catches up with their weight.

Though your child may need to lose weight (25 lbs is a lot of extra weight for a 9-year-old) increased activity and unlimited access to healthy foods is probably better than a counting calories approach.

There is lots of evidence linking TV watching with obesity in children. I read a study not long ago where they took a group of overweight kids and asked half to limit their television viewing/computer time to one hour/day. The group that cut down on TV lost weight.

Some parents have a ''if its light, you're outside'' policy, that keeps kids running around outside instead of sitting inside. Make outside fun: Make an obstacle course in your yard and run through it together. If you live in an apartment you can try these things: Put up a piece of string to jump over. Raise it a little every day, and practice jumping over it every day. Go for a walk together. Get your child to walk fast or keep her going when she complains with inventive stories. Our favorites: we are fleeing a dragon (find things along the way to fight the dragon with --- ivy that puts dragons to sleep, etc), (if it is hot and feet are dragging) we are lost in a desert and we must make it to a distant caravan before it departs (or oasis) and we die of thirst. Be sure to encounter lots of scorpions, poisonous puddles of water, skulls, sidewinder snakes, along the way. Maybe 9 is too old for this, but it works great for 2-6! Worth a try anyway. Your 9-year-old may enjoy writing down the adventures with your help and illustrating them when you get home.

Enroll your child in an organized sport. Regular exercise will make a huge difference. If your child is embarrassed, or doesn't want to participate in a competitive sport why not rollerblade or bike ride together OR, enroll your child in swim lessons. Enroll your child in an outdoor summer camp for a week or two. Go to nature walks in the parks with a ranger and learn about wildlife while you get some exercize. Take up backyard birdwatching. There is a great device called the ''identiflyer'' you carry it around and see if any birds you hear match the birds on the identiflyer, so you can learn to identify birds by their call.

Don't buy any junk food. No fat-free cookies. No soda, no juice except citrus juice (most juices are mostly sugar, with little nutritional value. Citrus juices are an exception). No ''nutrition'' bars (calories are very concentrated). No sugared cereal. Children, like adults, will overeat junk food, but will refuse an apple, strawberries, piece of ham or turkey, cube of cheese, glass of milk, boiled egg if they are really not hungry. I think it is much easier to be disciplined at the grocery store than at home. Do allow occasional, reasonably-portioned treats.

Diets can have a negative effect on girls' self-esteem and set them up for a life-long habit of unsuccessful dieting. On the other hand, an active lifestyle and healthy eating we very much hope to make life-long habits, so I recommend you focus on those!

If your child doesn't like to exercise, incentivize with non-food rewards. Make a chart, have your child earn the rewards and make sure the rewards are on-hand for immediate delivery. Rewards that ''we'll go out and buy as soon as you do whatever'' are too abstract (the kids don't trust you for one thing) and not nearly as motivating as the object on the shelf that they could have if only they did what they need to. I have a stack of drawers filled with ready rewards from the dollar store and they are HUGELY motivating. I put small rewards in the top drawer labelled one (for one piano practice) and then increasingly nice and tantalizing rewards in drawers labelled 2, 3 and 4. You could even see if your child wanted to work toward something really big (I have a friend whose 9-yr-old child gave up candy for A YEAR in order to get a Nintendo 64!). Such a reward system not only motivates your child to do whatever it is you want her to do and she is reluctant to do, but also teaches your child the value of saving and delaying gratification (you can reward yourself immediately with a gel pen, or save your credits and get a set of watercolor paints or a Nintendo 64!) which are important life skills.

Good luck!

Statistics on obesity and TV:
* The incidence of obesity was highest among children who watched four or more hours of television a day and lowest among children watching an hour or less a day. These results were reported in a study by researchers at the University at Buffalo, Johns Hopkins University, The National Cancer Institute and the Centers for Disease Control (Crespo, 2001).

# In analyzing the data from a national survey between 1988 and 1994, researchers found that the 26% of children who watched four or more hours of television a day had significantly more body fat than those who watched less television. The more time children spent watching television, the greater their weight increase (Andersen, 1998).

# Another study found that 60% of the overweight in children, ages 10-15, may be due to excessive television viewing (Gortmacher, 1996). susan

i am so glad to see your posted message, your concern for your daughter's health. so often, the long term effects of childhood obesity are overlooked because a child appears healthy for now, the present. stanford university houses the stanford center for research and disease prevention. they have a children's weight control program. please call cindy zedeck at 650.725.4424. the group meets weekly (parents and children separately) during which there is healthy eating education and support for both the kids and adults. good luck. jennifer

You might be interested in a new book out this year called ''The Parent's Guide to Childhood Eating Disorders.'' It apparently focuses on disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder rather than weight-loss techniques, but it gives advice on developing healthy attitudes toward food, exercise, etc. I haven't read it, but it was written by a friend of mine, Nancy Matsumoto, who is a very responsible journalist, in collaboration with Marcia Herrin, Ed.D., M.P.H., R.D., who is the founder of the Dartmouth College Eating Disorder Program. It's published by Owl Books/ Henry Holt & Company. Susan

This is an age to be very careful about weight issues for girls. Before their period starts, girl do have a rapid weight gain, it is a natural physiological process. However it sounds like there are also other concerns regarding weight in your household. A good comprehensive program is Shapedown, it is offered at UCSF and you could probably call them to find out East Bay locations for the program. I believe there are other weight control programs for kids and you might call a few local hospitals to inquire what they might offer.

Be kind to yourself and your daughter; there are also resources available on size acceptance, as our culture is very unaccepting of larger sizes. Joanne Ikeda who works with EFNEP is a leader on this issue. EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) has an office at UC Berkeley, I believe. I hope this is enough info to get you started on your search. Good luck. Dietetian