- Reducing caloric intake is the easiest change. Highly restrictive diets that forbid favorite foods are likely to fail. They should be limited to rare patients with severe complications who must lose weight quickly.
- Becoming more active is widely recommended. Increased activity is common in all studies of successful weight reduction. Creating an environment that fosters physical activity is important
- Parent involvement in modifying overweight children's behavior is important. Parents who model healthy eating and activity can positively influence their children's health.
In treating most overweight children, the main emphasis should be to prevent weight gain above what is appropriate for expected increases in height. This is called prevention of increased weight gain velocity. For many children this may mean limited or no weight gain while they grow taller. Recommendations for maintaining weight should include regular physical activity and careful attention to diet to avoid too many calories. Factors predicting success are
- frequent intervention visits
- including parents in the dietary treatment program
- strong social support of dietary intervention from others involved in food preparation
- regular exercise routine, including social support
The importance of continuing these lifestyle changes well past the initial treatment period should be emphasized to the entire family. The healthiest way to change weight is gradually.
How is body fat measured?
The body mass index (BMI) formula assesses weight relative to height. It is a useful, indirect measure of body composition because for most people it correlates highly with body fat. Weight in kilograms is divided by height in meters squared (kg/m2). Or multiply weight in pounds by 703; divide by height in inches, and then divide again by height in inches.
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