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Toddler on a Diet?

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A new movement to prevent childhood obesity has some moms concerned.


Pediatricians around the country are providing weight-management programs for parents interested in teaching their kids healthy eating habits at an early age. Kids can choose "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" foods and learn to listen to bodily cues as well as find out about the importance of exercise. These doctors say it's never too early to start managing a child's weight -- especially with the rise in childhood obesity -- but is teaching a child about weight at such a young age just asking for eating disorders later in life?

Pediatrician and momlogic contributor Dr. Cara Natterson weighs in:

"I think this is fabulous. It is never to early to teach children how to eat well and live healthfully. It is true that obesity among children has skyrocketed over the past two decades, and studies show that an overweight
2- or 3-year-old is at greater risk for becoming an obese adult. Perhaps the entire family will benefit because you can't ask a parent to enforce nutrition rules for a young child that they don't follow themselves."

Pediatrician Dr. Gwenn had this to say:

"I give these programs two thumbs up! There is a growing body of scientific data to support that childhood obesity tracks very, very young and that the biggest hurdle is parental admission of the problem. Parents just can't see it. They must admit their kids have weight issue at any age. There is a reason the doc is bringing it up, and it has nothing to do with the growth chart and everything to do with that child's future health and risk of serious issues such as high blood pressure and diabetes. For toddlers, the "right" way to support them is to help them learn how to eat healthy. I explain to kids and parents at all ages that if a body is overweight it is telling you two important facts:
1. it is not being fed correctly.
2. it is not being moved enough.

Plus, there is a social stigma that develops the longer a child is overweight. All of this is preventable if parents become more realistic."

What's your view on toddler weight programs?

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200 comments so far | Post a comment now
Sean (a dad) June 12, 2008, 10:56 AM

I think it is very important to teach our kids healthy eating habits. I don’t think we should be focusing on their weight, however. I agree there is a concern that focusing on a child’s weight could lead to eating disorders and a distorted self-view. The focus should simply be on health and healthy foods. Good food choices will lead to kids with healthy weights.

I think this is especially important after reading a recent study that says all our fat cells are created before we are in our mid-20’s. Bad eating habits as children will dog our kids their entire lives. And what parent really wants to put their child on the road to an unhealthy adulthood?

Ju February 24, 2009, 6:06 PM

My 2 yr old was getting chunky for a while because I allowed constant snacks, never mind that they were fruits (which has dextrose, which is sugar) and the occasional bit of candy. Once I stopped the snacking, she started to get to a healthier size for her age. She loves fruits and vegetables (especially steamed broccoli) so I never had problems feeding her healthy food. She actaully prefers tangerines to candy if given a choice and loves any type of fish. She’s still too young to understand that these are good for her, I make sure these things are around for her. It also helps if the parents eat healthy, kids take their cues from us. If we’re fat and binging, they’re more likely to be fat and bingy. Or they’ll be scared to look like that and regulate themselves. “Practice what you preach” is a fitting term here.

Yvonne Fricker March 26, 2009, 4:50 PM

Here is a great gadget to teach your kids how to eat healthy even when they are in school:
Use WARMABLES. It allows parents to pack their kids a warm lunch at 7 am. The home cooked meal is still warm at lunchtime in school. This is an easy, convenient way of avoiding nutritionally low school lunches.

We also save money by not buying those lunches anymore and our son loves his food now.
Go to
The gadget costs $ 22.00

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