How can I help my 5 year old daughter lose weight? I feed her healthy food and she drinks plenty of water but it's not helping. The doctor keeps on telling me she is overweight.

Thank you for submitting your question to EatFresh.org.  You want to your daughter to be healthy. You offer your daughter healthy food and plenty of water, yet her doctor tells you she's overweight.  Without more detailed health and diet information, I cannot provide specific recommendations for your daughter.  

Generally, a typical 5-year-old child should gain around 4-5 pounds and grow about 2-3 inches in one year.  Many younger children shouldn't actually shed pounds.  Since they're still growing, they need to maintain their weight or gain at a slower rate.  Your daughter's doctor can let you know what you should aim for.  

Think about trying these simple steps to help your daughter - and your whole family - to live a healthier lifestyle: 

1. Get the family on board.  Avoid singling out your daughter, have a conversation with the whole family about how you want to make healthy changes for everyone, including you.  Kids learn their habits from their parents, so it's important you lead by example.  

2. Small changes. Don't try to overhaul your family's diet all at once.  Instead, make one small change at a time.  Small tweaks are more likely to last for a lifetime.

  • Swap your child's sugar-sweetened drinks (juice, soda, and other fruit drinks) for water or low-fat/non-fat milk.
  • Make sure to offer a healthy breakfast.
  • Limit food from restaurants or fast food joints to 1 time a week, cook more at home.
  • Buy more fruits/vegetables for snacks, avoid buying packaged foods - kid's eat what is available.

3. Eat together. When you sit down as a family to eat together (not in front of TV), you'll encourage healthier habits.  If you can, get everyone involved in planning and cooking the meals.

4. Snacking on fruits and veggies is a good choice when your daughter tells you she's hungry between meals.  Choosing healthy snacks will promote health growth and maintain a healthy weight. 

5. Get moving. Being active is an important part of weigh management. Help your daughter move more each day and have fun with it.  Think about what she enjoys and ways you can be active together. 

  • Pick two 30-minute time slots you could use for family activity time.
  • Add physical activity to your daily routine.  For example, walk or ride your bike to the park, exercise during commercial breaks while watching TV, or park at the farthest parking space.
  • Play with your daughter outside, ask her to join you for an exercise video, or do some stretches together.

6. Limit screen time (in front of computer, TV, smart phone, or tablet) to less than 2 hours a day and encourage your daughter to move more. 

If you make these changes and your daughter is still isn't moving towards a healthier weight after a few months, ask your doctor for a referral to a professional who specializes in weight management for children.  Wish you the best!

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