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What do I do to make my children lose weight?

Q: I have a seven years old daughter and an eight years old son, who weigh 42 kg and 44 kg respectively. My daughter is 140 cm tall and the son is 142 cm tall. Both of them are 12-14 kg overweight. To make them fit, I have been taking them for morning walks and jogging for the last four months. They walk around four to five km daily. Is this enough for shedding weight? Further, they are very busy with school, tuition and homework and have no time for anything else. They don't even eat junk or oily food and are still not losing weight. What can I do to make them lose weight?

A:Both your children are definitely overweight and they have good height as well. Most obese children tend to be tall for their age. This indicates that obesity is secondary to imbalance between food intake and energy expended and not due to any other illness. Certainly action should be taken to curb further rise in weight and if possible losing some weight since obesity in childhood can lead to many complications later in life. I would suggest that you should combine healthy eating with regular exercise and build it in their daily schedule. Cut down on fats and sweets, totally. This also means reducing oil used in cooking foods, ghee on chapatis, replace paranthas, puris with plain un-buttered chapattis, use steamed, boiled vegetable cooked with minimum oil. Avoid too much cheese, butter and jams on sandwiches. Use green chutney, curd based spreads etc. Instead of fried cutlets, use fresh vegetable in sandwiches. Use double toned milk instead of full cream. Everybody in the family should have this diet on a long-term basis. This means that ice cream, eating out etc should be done only on occasional basis. As far as exercise is concerned, children may not enjoy jogging so much. Let them choose activity of their choice: swimming, cycling, dancing, basketball, even badminton are all good exercises and fun too. As their stamina builds up, they can spend more time on these activities. Time can easily be taken out by cutting on their TV/computer time. The idea is to build a healthy life-style, which they adopt for the lifetime so that they can keep obesity at bay forever.

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