Video: The squeeze on juice

By Senior producer
updated 9/8/2006 12:02:30 PM ET 2006-09-08T16:02:30

Overweight children don't get polite labels like "full-figured," or "plus-sized."

At best, the label on the new school uniform says "husky."  The names in the schoolyard will be much tougher than that.

Parents of overweight or obese children are faced with a dilemma.  You need to encourage your child to lose weight and make healthy choices, but reinforce that you love them exactly as they are.

The topic of talking to your kids about weight issues was one of the most e-mailed subjects this week.

As the summer draws to a close and a new school semester is set to begin, now is a terrific time to wipe the slate clean and make healthy choices for a new school year.

We spoke to an expert named Marilyn Tanner-Blasiar, a registered dietician with the Obesity Clinic at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, who offered some great tips:

Be a role model
Your children learn by watching you.  If they need to make changes for themselves, they will take their lead off of you and the way you eat.  Lead by example.

Make diet changes
Take a look at what your children are eating and drinking.  Especially monitor high calorie beverages like fruit juices and sodas.  Water should be encouraged.  As for the other stuff, less is better.

Watch portion sizes
Her rule of thumb is no more than a fist-size serving for any particular food.  Remember that as a child grows so does his or her fist.  Adjust portions as the child grows.

Increase activity
Less time in front of screens, whether TV or computer.  Spend more time exercising or moving around, playing active games.

Encourage personal involvement
Teach your child how to make good choices and encourage them to evaluate his or her own diet and make those choices independently.  Get your child involved and on board and you’ll see a lifestyle change.

Marilyn also mentioned that food should never be a reward.  That really struck a chord.  How many times do we catch ourselves saying, "If you’re good, we’ll go get ice cream"?

From now on, let’s try, "If you’re good, we’ll go to a movie or to the park."

This fall semester can be the start of something great.

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