Treating Obesity in Children: More on “The Plan”

In my last posting (31 March 2007), I put together a healthy eating plan for a hypothetical 9 year old boy. At first glance, you may think that the list of do’s and don’ts are obvious and can’t possibly be all that it takes to effect substantial weight loss? You would be wrong, and I will try to explain why.

Why do children get overweight?

In earlier postings, I discussed the many reasons for the present obesity epidemic. Regardless of the specific mechanisms involved, most obesity boils down to too many calories in and too few expended. In most instances, the positive calorie balance is only 100-200 per day. What that means is that some combination of 100-200 calories per day not eaten or “burned up” means no excessive weight gain; add another 100 calories or so to the negative side and it results in weight loss- remember that a negative calorie balance of only 100 per day results in a weight loss of almost a pound (0.45 kilograms) each month. That may not seem like a big deal but it’s almost 12 pounds in a year.

Where can I “find” those 100-200 calories per day?

If you re-examine the eating plan for John, our hypothetical 9 year old boy with obesity (posting of 31 March 2007), you will find that most recommendations are designed to cut back on calories consumed or increase calories expended.  For most people, It doesn’t take much of a change in their eating and their activity routines to find those 100-200 calories.  For example, each sugar-containing soda is about 160 calories.  Each extra spoonful of whatever is 50-100 calories or more.  Each slice of bread is 60-120 calories.  Each bedtime snack is- you don’t even want to think about it!  Each 30 minute walk is 100-200 calories depending on intensity.

You get the picture.  It’s only a question of knowing the plan and working hard each day to follow it.

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