5 tips to help kids maintain a healthy weight

Lifestyle and diet are linked to childhood obesity.

Leading a healthy lifestyle — and leading by example — may help kids maintain a healthy weight. September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and with 1 in 5 children and adolescents affected by obesity, it’s more important than ever to support them.

Causes of childhood obesity

When someone is obese, their weight is more than what is considered healthy for their height, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Eating patterns, physical activity, sleep, genetics and medications can all lead to weight gain. Where your children live, go to school, or receive childcare can also affect obesity risk. If nutritious foods aren’t affordable or nearby, or if it’s difficult to find time to exercise, it might be hard to maintain a healthy weight. Although obesity can increase the risk for heart disease, diabetes and other concerns, there are ways to prevent it. These five tips can help kids stay healthy, and they’re good for adults, too.


Skip fast food and processed foods.

Fast food has more calories, sugar and salt, which can affect kids’ and adults’ weight and health.


Try to eat five servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day.

Fruits and veggies have the nutrients that kids need to grow, but fresh produce isn’t the only option. Canned or frozen fruits and vegetables with low sodium and little to no added sugars are also great choices.


Make food more fun.

Visit myplate.gov to learn about the five food groups with your children, get them involved during mealtimes and play fun food games. If you have picky eaters, try these quick and easy activities.


Aim for at least 60 minutes of daily activity.

Encourage your child to join activities that increase their heart rate and build bone strength, such as running, climbing and jumping, for at least an hour per day.


Get plenty of rest.

Research shows that too little sleep may increase children’s obesity risk and disrupt hormones, leading to an increased appetite.

Improving nutrition for kids

Kids’ experiences with food can affect the ways they eat as they get older, the CDC says. That’s why it’s important to introduce them to fruits, vegetables and other foods at an early age. Fewer than 1 in 10 children and adults eat the recommended daily amount of vegetables, and only 4 in 10 children eat enough fruit, the CDC reports. A healthy eating plan may help to manage weight and should include:

  • Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products.
  • Proteins, such as beans, eggs, lean meats, peas and seeds.
  • Lower amounts of added sugars, sodium, saturated and trans fats and cholesterol.

For more resources to support your child’s health, check out our free wellness webinars from our Best Health® wellness program and a helpful preventive care checklist for children.

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