Weight concerns with 9 yr old

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.

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RE: Weight concerns with 9 yr old ()

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. 

RE: Weight concerns with 9 yr old ()

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!)

RE: Weight concerns with 9 yr old ()

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!!

RE: Weight concerns with 9 yr old ()

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.

RE: Weight concerns with 9 yr old ()

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.