Home HealthTopics Health Centers Reference Library Research
Join us on Facebook Join us on Facebook Share on Facebook

Healthy Weight Center

How Can I Motivate My Child to Lose Weight?

03/11/2009

Question:

I`m looking for a chart on the normal weight ranges for children. Specifically, an 11 year old girl who stands about 5 feet tall (give or take 2 inches) should weigh how much? If you could point me in the direction of a chart, that would be helpful. Also, do you have any advice on how to motivate same girl to lose weight, i.e. eating less and exercising more. She loves to eat and dislikes most exercise. We`re concerned that she`ll grow up to be obese.

Answer:

According to data from the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, an eleven year old girl who is in the 50th percentile should average about 57 inches in height or 3 inches less than 5 feet, and weigh on an average about 81 pounds. Do consider that these are only averages and do not forget to take into consideration whether or not her parents are average. If parents are tall or short, then she might have a tendency to be more like them. The important factor is that she is growing at an even rate and is well proportioned and healthy. Another way to chart height and weight is on her visits to the doctor. Ask for a height and weight percentile chart for girls age 2 to 18 years. Motivating anyone, including young girls to lose weight and exercise more, needs to come from her own internal motivation for the most part. With such a societal emphasis on being thin, caution needs to be included in providing direction. Around age 11, her peers will become an important part of her life, although parents still do play a part in role modeling healthy behaviors. If her peers are active in sports, such as soccer, then she will probably have an interest. Without over emphasizing eating, role model and explain good eating habits to her at meal time. Offer snacks of fruits and vegetable sticks. Offer low fat yogurt in place of ice cream. Your question will be referred to our expert in Diet and Nutrition for addition information. Please check that expert area in another day or two. From the Diet and Nutrition Section: Ross Laboratories developed a commonly used height and weight growth chart that is commonly used in many physician's office to assess growth. Your doctor can share a copy of these charts with you. Early adolescence is an important time for developing likes and dislikes, especially with regard to activity levels and food preferences Encourage your daughter to become engaged in some sort of physical activity. A fun filled family activity, such as bike riding, may send a very positive message about the value and importance of exercise. Perhaps you can explore options with your daughter that she might enjoy such as joining a team, hiking with Girl Scouts, going to the local YMCA, or simply playing backyard games with friends and neighbors. A major deterrrent of physical activity is television watching. I would suggest limiting your daughter to no more than 1 or 2 hours a day of this very sedentary activity. Is your daughter a healthy eater? This may be a good time for the entire family to develop healthy eating habits. Try fruits and veggies as snacks. Experiment with meatless dishes. Explore new recipes for fruits and vegetables. Good Luck in your efforts

For more information:

Go to the Healthy Weight Center health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Jill Foster, MD
Formerly, Assistant Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati