There was once a time when a kid was rarely seen carrying extra weight on his body. But now, the tide has taken a turn for the worse. We see more and more kids weighing way above the required body weight at their age. Even children as young as 12 years face fat issues, which is very disheartening.
At about 12 years of age, your kid begins developing an understanding of his body and becomes self-conscious about it. And this stage becomes unnecessarily tricky if your child is overweight because the peer pressure he then has to face could scar his self-esteem for a long time.
This is why helping your child lose weight requires a lot of understanding and perseverance on your part. It will also mean changes in the home and family dynamics because you cannot just leave a 12-year-old to figure it out alone. And we will talk about all of it in this article. But first, let’s touch on why kids gain weight so early.
Many factors could be at play here.
Easy Availability of Food
Part of why it’s so easy to overconsume, not just as an adult but as a kid, is the ready availability of food today. Kids themselves are very well aware of how to order food online. And access to mobile phones makes this easier.
Needless to say, the nutritional value of the food ordered online is far less than what you would
get a home-cooked meal. This is why kids are increasingly fat and developing calcium, iron, and Vitamin b deficiencies.
An Excess Of Sugar
How many of you can say that you can successfully keep your kids away from all those chocolates and soft drinks? Not many, we know.
Sugar has infiltrated most processed foods we buy today, even the ones that are branded under an organic label! This makes it harder and harder to keep your children away from this silent killer ingredient.
After all, how long can you keep saying ‘no’ to your child for something he sees his friends eating all the time? This is why we are seeing an all-time increase in overweight and malnourished kids.
Not long ago, most 12-year-olds would complete their homework after school in a rush so that they could run off outside to play with their friends the first chance they got.
Nowadays, you are lucky if your children stay away from their phones for five minutes at a
stretch. We see kids glued to their mobile phones from morning till night. This leaves them uninterested in engaging in physical; activities outside in the open, which is one of the main reasons kids are gaining weight so easily these days.
How much weight should your 12-year-old lose?
At about 12 years of age, many changes begin happening in your child’s body. He is not only maturing physically but emotionally and mentally as well. And at this stage, it’s essential to ensure he receives all the proper nutrition for the body to thrive.
So, keeping the weight loss as normal and slow as possible is essential. At this age, there is no need to speed things up. You can take it slow and include dietary and lifestyle changes one by one to ensure your child sheds excess fat slowly and comfortably.
It’s crucial to note here that introducing your child to any fad diets or extreme workout routines
at this stage could prove detrimental to his growth, so you must always keep this in mind.
Now that this is settled let’s look at some of the ways that can help your child in his weight loss journey.
Lead by Example
When you realize that your child is at the grips of an unhealthy lifestyle and excess fat, you must understand that you will have to take the first step towards health. It is seldom that a family that is health conscious as a unit has a child who prefers to eat unhealthily.
So, the first step is to change your family’s diet. Check what you eat and promote eating in front of your kid. If you are a sweet tooth and your kid often sees you with a chocolate bar, he will not take you seriously when you deny him the same pleasures. It’s beyond doubt that the most important step is to watch what you eat and promote healthier habits as a family.
Check the Calories
This goes without saying. Whether it’s a child or an adult, the formula remains the same for weight loss. It would be best if you cut back on your regular caloric intake.
Usually, you may need to be aware of how many calories your child consumes in the form of mid-meal snacks, sodas, and soft drinks. All those empty calories can add up to a lot of harmful sugar. This is why you must maintain a log, either online or offline, to track how much food your kid consumes and then cut back accordingly.
Slowly and Steadily is the way
Now that we have covered the need to cut back on calories, let’s talk about how far you can go with it.
As mentioned earlier, a child needs proper nutrition to support his growth, and cutting back on too many calories at once could lead to malnutrition, especially when it’s a huge possibility that he might already be undernourished if his diet mainly consists of fast food upto this point.
So, it’s better to aim for at most 1 pound of fat loss a month. This will also give his body ample time to adjust to the changes.
Help him fall in love with Vegetables
As you already know, children are notorious for avoiding eating vegetables as if their life depended on them. Any hint of spinach or boiled veggies on their plate, and they suddenly aren’t hungry anymore.
You are not alone in this. But you have to admit that this is one of the reasons why your child is
gaining weight. When the body’s essential nutritional needs aren’t met, cravings for unhealthy foods increase. Not only that, but it also makes kids inactive and less energetic.
So make it a point to serve stir-fried vegetables and all his favorite meals and encourage him to eat them before moving on to the ones they enjoy. Turn it into a rewarding system, and you’ll find him much more cooperative.
Encourage Regular Physical Activity
There is no version of a healthy lifestyle that is devoid of at least an hour of physical activity per day. And we are being generous with the time here!
You must find ways to encourage your child to take up some physical activity he enjoys. You could play badminton or football with him. Sign him up for swimming classes or go on short morning runs together.
Find out what he likes and base the physical activity around that to ensure he won’t leave it midway.
And there are more chances, so he goes through with it if you do it with him.
Water, Water, Water
With the availability of that colorful and delicious drinks out there, not to mention the tangy sodas in the food commercials, it’s more than likely that your child isn’t getting the required amount of water per day, which will lead to dehydration and an increase in hunger pangs and cravings.
So it’s imperative for your child’s health that you encourage him to drink at least 2 liters of water
daily, according to his BMI. Turn it into a fun reward system by offering him 15 more minutes of his favorite shows for every liter he finishes. You can do this in a number of different ways.
The Bottom Line
We understand that the whole process of encouraging your child to lose weight is a daunting task. It comes with a lot of challenges, especially when it’s a 12-year-old that needs to lose fat. This is a very confusing age for the kid, but with proper nutrition and care, it can be achieved.
Yes, gaining a little weight during adolescence is generally typical, especially around the belly. If you have a little belly fat, don’t worry too much. Everything fits into the growth strategy.
A 12-year-old can eat healthily by following these easy steps:
Limit your intake of packaged and quick meals. They often include more fat and calories. Consume no beverages with added sugars. Water and skim, or low-fat milk, should be substituted for pop, smoothies, and carbonated drinks. Promote healthy eating practices. Apply minor adjustments.
Yes, if a 12-year-old is overweight, they should lose the extra weight (after consulting a doctor). They need calories for energy, growth, and development; therefore, they don’t promote restriction. No child under 12 should lose more than one pound every month.