I have a 9 year old son that to me seems overweight.

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I have a 9-year-old son that, to me, seems overweight. His father and I are both overweight. I have had my ups and downs in weight since a child. Currently, I am following your Healthy Body Calculator® guidelines for intake recommendations.

My son is 4 1/2 feet tall and 120 pounds. His doctor did not seem to be concerned about his weight at all, but he comes home in tears because the other children are cruel with weight jokes and remarks. He told me he really wants to be thin.

I have started us on a low exercise schedule to work us into it since we both have been sedentary for such a long time. We have been biking for an hour a day, three days a week.

Today, for example, he had 1650 calories (320 were fat calories), 31 grams of fat (7 were saturated fats) and are you sitting down? – 113 grams of sugar. It didn’t seem like I was giving him all that sugar, but that can’t be good for him! Is that what makes him overweight?

I read your advice not to diet the children, but instead, let them grow into their height. I, too, had that same theory 3 years ago when he seemed a little chubby. But now I feel worried that he will grow up to have the same weight fighting dilemma as myself. He isn’t “growing” into his body, he is developing fat pockets on his sides and stomach. What do you recommend most that I should do?

Have you tried my Healthy Kid Calculator®? I ran your son’s data through. His height is at the 75th percentile and his weight is over the 97th percentile. So he is heavy for height with a BMI of 29. His BMI should be 17.6. A healthy weight range is 63 – 81 pounds and he should maintain his weight until he is 13 years old to grow into his current weight of 120 pounds. He needs 1,420 calories to maintain his weight without any exercise.

You say that his doctor isn’t concerned, but I am because he weighs more than a healthy weight for his height. I would recommend you make an appointment for him to see a registered dietitian near you who can work with your entire family to develop an eating plan that includes your family’s food likes and dislikes.

I am also concerned that your son wants to be “thin” not strong and fit. Boys can develop eating disorders as well as girls and he may be developing a distorted image of what he should look like to be accepted by his peers. Talk to him about getting strong which should appeal to a boy. He won’t start to lay down a lot of muscle until he hits puberty, but he can strengthen the muscles he does have using exercise to reduce body fat.

How are you counting calories and fat grams in what your son is eating? How do you know what he eats at school? He is at an age where he can take some responsibility for his eating and exercise habits with your help in providing a healthy food environment as well as role modeling healthy food and exercise habits. Don’t emphasize the calorie/fat grams too much. Instead, emphasize a healthy eating plan. Is your husband involved in this “healthy lifestyle” plan as well? Hope so.

The sugar content in his food is high at 27% sugar calories when it should be less than 10%. What foods are contributing to the high sugar content? Carbonated beverages?

His fat content is way too low (19%) and possibly adding to not feeling satisfied after meals. Your son needs to eat 47 grams of fat per day and he should be able to add 1 teaspoon margarine or mayonnaise or 1 tablespoon salad dressing to each meal with the rest of the fat in lean meat, poultry and fish. Skim milk would be the best choice to limit fat yet provide calcium and vitamin D for growing bones.

It’s not just the sugar in carbonated beverages that are contributing to his overweight. When you eat more calories (food) than you burn through exercise, your body stores the excess as fat. Talk to your son about why and how much he eats. He may be eating when he is bored or watching television rather than hungry.

Obviously, you son is concerned about how he is treated at school and would like to make some changes. Biking is a good exercise and gets you both moving three days a week. Make sure you keep moving and in the beginning stick with biking on fairly level surfaces. You should be able to cover a lot of ground in one hour on a bike. Think of something else to do the other 4 days of the week and invite your husband along. Ask your son for ideas. You will find that exercise increases a feeling of energy, suppresses appetite and increases your metabolism for 18 hours after exercising.