Take the 2-minute tour ×
Parenting Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for parents, grandparents, nannies and others with a parenting role. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My nephew is 6 years old and actualy really heavy. Now he weighs about 29kg (64 lbs) which concerns me a lot. He has an average height for his age.

The problem is that the child eats way too much than it should. He can eat about 800gr (1,8 lbs) of lasagna on his own, and he doesn't get too much support to eat healthy at home. He can add as much to his plate as he wants and however he is encouraged to eat vegetables, if he takes another piece of meat, that's okay too. His drinks are always always always apple juice from a box, something that isn't quite helping him either.

He also has a sibling who is really skinny and can eat about everything without gaining weight. That seems also a problem to me because she's allowed to have chips and sweets and he can't. Wich always results in him secretly taking the snacks anyway.

I'm a little concerned because the parents don't take his weight quite seriously, they say it's just a little fat that will disappear over time. It's not that they don't love or care for their child because the take him to the pool for swim class and go by themselves a couple of times a week.

I was wondering if there is anything I can do to help him as a niece, so he can eat healthier. In my opinion, the child doesn't understand he is overweight and it can be dangerous if he continues eating the portions and the unhealthy foods he eats.

I thought about inviting him over to make some healthy snacks with fruit and just have fun with them so he believes that fruits are just yummier than cookies or sweets and he will want to eat them at home also. I just don't know if that's the right approach to help him in the right direction.

Do you know what I can do to help the kiddo out?

UPDATE

I have some good new to share. His parents have acknowledged his problem and are now helping him in a very good way to eat healthy and drop weight.

When he drinks an entire bottle of water (1,5l), he gets some pocket money (1€). He can spend it like he wants to (but not on sweets). He's now so focused on drinking the bottle, he doesn't crave the apple juice anymore. He's also less hungry.

When he cheats and eats sweets or unhealthy snacks, he gets a sticker. If he has 5 stickers, he can't watch a daily soap he likes.

He is now also encouraged to eat a small piece of meat, potatoes and a lot of vegetables.

I think this is going the good way and hope he gets to a more normal weight soon!

share|improve this question
    
I am a little bit confused. Are you a niece or the aunt? In other words, are you a peer of this child or a grown up? –  morah hochman Jan 25 '12 at 15:53
    
@morah hochman I'm a niece and I'm 22 at the moment. It concerns my aunt her son. –  Hannelore Jan 26 '12 at 7:55
    
@Hannelore if I understand correctly, the relationship between you and the overweight child is that you are cousins. How old is the child? –  Erin Jan 27 '12 at 22:10
    
@Erin, I wasn't aware there was a different meaning between the words cousin and niece/nephew. In my mothertongue there hardly isn't. The boy is 6 years old at the moment. –  Hannelore Jan 30 '12 at 8:27
1  
@Hannelore Just saw your update; glad to hear that things are working out! Thanks for keeping us posted :) –  Beofett Jul 24 '12 at 12:53
add comment

1 Answer 1

The problem is that the child eats way too much than it should.

Under normal circumstances, I believe, children instinctively know how much of what their body needs. However, it is easy to spoil their instincts body consciousness. Sweets create a craving in the brain, and it is difficult - for a child near impossible - to separate the signals from the brain and the stomach. And as we know, eating may also often become a replacement for something else. Could it be that the child does not have enough other sources of joy in his life? Like harmonious family life, friends, social activities etc.

he doesn't get too much support to eat healthy at home.

Now that's a real problem. You can't really make a change in his eating habits without support from his parents. And if his parents let things get this far, I am afraid he has already well entrenched eating habits which are difficult to change.

Have you talked to his parents about your concerns? Are they concerned too, or do they dismiss the issue (or might they even see his weight as a positive thing)? This is very much culture dependent - in most traditional cultures being overweight has been seen as a positive sign, demonstrating that you were healthy and rich enough to eat well (and it was also a built-in fat reserve for times of famine). Even though those times are over (in the West at least), the old ways of thinking takes generations to change.

Apart from his family, another strong influence at this age is other children. It is, alas, very typical in kindergarten / school restaurants (at least in our country) that children spectacularly hate all sorts of vegetables, which thus becomes the ruling sentiment. Even our own children, who like most vegetables and used to eat all sorts of our homemade vegetarian / exotic meals happily, became much more dismissive to these after starting kindergarten.

I thought about inviting him over to make some healthy snacks with fruit and just have fun with them so he believes that fruits are just yummier than cookies or sweets and he will want to eat them at home also.

I am afraid that may not work straight away. I remember from my own childhood, that - having a sweet tooth - I found fruits in their natural form simply sour (compared to chocolate and its ilk), so I just didn't like most of them. It took a considerable amount of time as an adult, having reduced my intake of sweets, to start enjoying the natural sweetness of fruits. So at least, be prepared to add some extra sugar to your fruit snacks in the beginning.

share|improve this answer
    
His parents are concerned, because he got some eating advice from the school health checkup, but most of the time they kind of don't know what to do with it. They lack of structure and let the kid eat everything he wants to in the end. They take him to do sports but with his weight, that's not enough anymore. As far as I know is that his stomach is already the size of an adult one and he can eat three plates in a row if he wants to. He doesn't eat meals at school, he always comes home for lunch, a home where there are cookies and stuff available (which he eats after lunch as extra). –  Hannelore Jan 25 '12 at 9:26
    
He isn't particuarly picky in foods, he will just eat about anything he gets his hands on, with sweet and unhealthy foods as a first. I think the problem is to teach him how to eat less without him feeling hungry. –  Hannelore Jan 25 '12 at 9:29
1  
Structure is indeed important. Reducing the amount of snacks/sweets after and between main meals for the whole family could be one thing. Finding sport forms which he can practice even with his current weight would also be useful. I recommend (kids') yoga - it can usually be adjusted to different body sizes and shapes, and it can also gradually teach him to listen to and be conscious about his body, and give him positive experiences which hopefully help him get out of this vicious cycle. To eat less, one little thing may be to have him drink a glass of water before each meal. –  Péter Török Jan 25 '12 at 10:36
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.