There’s no doubt that the topic of weight is a sensitive one, especially when it comes to children and teens. But families need to be well informed about what healthy growth and development looks like and where to go for support.
Everybody develops differently at different ages. As a parent, keep these points in mind as your child grows.
You are a powerful role model.
- Feeling good about yourself matters. The way you think, feel and talk about yourself and others will affect how your kids think, feel and talk about themselves and others.
- Model the habits and attitudes that you want your kids to have.
Cook, eat and explore food together.
- Get everyone involved in meal planning, shopping and cooking. These are important life skills for everyone.
- Eat together as often as possible. It can be at breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack time. Eating together is a great way to connect and catch up on the day’s events.
- Choose healthy drinks like water or plain milk. Most sugary drinks provide little or no nutrition. Learn how to make, and help your children make, healthier drink choices here.
- Fill half your plate with fruits and veggies. Fruits and veggies are nature’s fast food. Pick ones your kids can grab to go.
Encourage kids to have fun and keep moving.
- Kids and teens need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. Learn more about Canada’s physical activity guidelines here.
- Encourage more active forms of entertainment. Limit screen time to no more than two hours a day.
- Start a family challenge to be active every day. Look for fun activities to do with your kids – indoors and outdoors. Get some ideas here.
Help your kids feel good about themselves.
- Remind your kids of how special and unique they are.
- Celebrate your child’s achievements. Connect with your kids and help them work through challenges and disappointments.
- Focus on healthy habits as opposed to weight.
Live 5-2-1-0 is an easy way to remember health guidelines for kids – 5 means that kids need at least five fruits or veggies each day. 2 stands for limiting screen time to no more than two hours per day. 1 means that kids need at least one hour of active play per day. And 0 stands for having zero sugary drinks. Learn more.
Check out these BC programs that can help the whole family:
MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do It!) is a free and fun 10 week program that empowers families with children aged 5-13 who are above a healthy weight to become healthier by participating in healthy meal planning, goal setting and physical activity. MEND is available through local recreation centres across BC. Learn more about MEND here. Most programs begin in January so find your local provider on this list and contact them to get the schedule.
Shapedown BC is a free program – available with a doctor referral – for children (between 6-17 years old and with body mass index (BMI) greater than 97 per cent*) and their guardians. The program helps families improve nutrition and activity habits. It focuses on the underlying factors that contribute to a child’s or teen’s weight and offers sensitive, entertaining and practical ways to move towards a healthier lifestyle. Learn more about Shapedown BC here.
The HealthLink BC Eating and Activity Program for Kids is a free telehealth service to help BC children and teens (aged 0 to 18) and their families reach healthy weights and improve their overall health and quality of life. It includes healthy eating and active living coaching for families in rural and remote parts of the province. Learn more about the program here.
Open up the lines of communication with your kids about the things they see in the media and issues relating to teasing and bullying. Take notice if they start losing interest in their friends or eating. These may be signs of body dissatisfaction. If you are worried, visit erasebullying.ca for more Information.
For more help, call 8-1-1 and ask to speak with a HealthLink BC registered dietitian or qualified exercise specialist. This service is free for British Columbians and is available from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Or send us an email.
*Children with a BMI between 85 per cent and 95 per cent will be considered if certain medical conditions are present