Weight problems are a reality for many families — and not just the adults. One area of concern is the growing population of preschoolers who struggle with weight problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 15 percent of toddlers and preschoolers aged 2–5 years are considered obese (defined as a BMI greater than the 95th percentile).
To help young children grow into healthy adults, it’s all about prevention and taking baby steps to a healthy weight. This means no crash diets, no intensive exercise for the two-year-old, and no interference with healthy growth and development. So, how can parents help their young ones achieve a healthy weight and maintain it? This series of articles will help you identify questions and solutions to promote healthy weight in your preschool-age children, answering questions like:
- Mealtime structure: How often do toddlers and preschoolers need to eat and why? Where should they eat and what should you be cautious about? We’ll answer these questions and more!
- Fruits and veggies: How many fruits and vegetables do little ones need? How do you fit it all in, especially vegetables? We’ll show you some creative ways to help all young children partake in fruits and veggies.
- Whole grains: With so many refined grains available today, what is the right balance to strike and how much fiber do children really need?
- Healthy fats: You can have an impact on lifetime health just by the types of fat you have in your home! This article shows you how to maximize healthy fats and minimize the unhealthy ones.
- Dairy foods: How much milk (or milk substitute) does your toddler need, and how much is too much? When should you transition to lower fat milk? These are the burning questions, and we’ve got the answers!
- Protein sources: Serving a variety of protein sources is important (especially fish and beans), but what if you have a little one who doesn’t like meat? How much protein does a young child really need? We’ll help you figure this out.
- Managing junk food: This will be a growing concern as your little one goes out into the world. What is the most effective way to manage these foods? Should treat foods be allowed, and if so, when? How do you know when enough is enough?
- Baby at the table: When should baby come to the table? When is it time to start solid foods, and what do you need to know about the benefits and drawbacks?
- Activity: Should your baby, toddler, and preschooler be exercising? What does this look like? We’ll show you how playtime is a way to make sure young children are active, including ideas to keep it fun and engaging.
Reviewed by Dr. Sara Connolly, September 2020
- Increasing numbers of preschoolers have weight problems.
- Prevention is the best way to prevent weight problems later in life.
- Almost 15 percent of preschool-age children are overweight or obese.