Healthy Weight for Children

Woman holding baby

Welcome to the Missouri WIC Participant Nutrition Education website. If you are a WIC participant, please enter your name and State ID number.  Type the Household ID if more than one family member is a participant.

* WIC ID or Household ID are required

Maintaining a Well Balanced Diet from Childhood to Adulthood. By the end of this session you will:

  • Understand 2 health consequences of obesity
  • Know at least 3 causes of obesity
  • Describe 3 healthy eating tips
  • List 2 benefits of physical activity

This lesson is intended to make parents aware of the risks of obesity. Obesity is a major health concern due to the dramatic increases in the prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents. This occurrence is causing an increase in other diseases that can be prevented in children.

activity 1



Why is it necessary for you to be at a healthy weight?

One important reason is to prevent diseases.

Consequences of Obesity:
Increases the Chance of Heart Disease:
One mile of blood vessels are added for every pound gained.  What happens whenever you add more blood vessels or think about what happens when you extend a garden hose.  Do you have to turn the water up to get the same flow you did with the shorter hose?  Think of your heart as that faucet.  It has to turn up the pressure and work harder to get the blood to go farther.  The increased work load could eventually lead to:

  • Cardio Myopathy: Enlarged heart
  • Congestive Heart Failure: A term used to describe any condition in which the heart is unable to adequately pump blood throughout the body and/or unable to prevent blood from "backing up" into the lungs. These conditions cause symptoms such as shortness of breath (dyspnea), fatigue, weakness, and swelling (edema) of the legs and sometimes the abdomen.
  • Heart Attack: (Also called a myocardial infarction) is the death of part of the heart muscle due to its sudden loss of blood supply.
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure...Blood pressure results from two forces. One is created by the heart as it pumps blood into the arteries and through the circulatory system. The other is the force of the arteries as they resist the blood flow.
  • Hyperlipidemia: High cholesterol/high triglycerides (fat)... A high cholesterol level is a serious health risk because it can lead to coronary heart disease.

Do you pick your children up often?  Do you carry them around for very long?  Why do you usually set your children down?  Does your back start to ache?  Do your knees and ankles become stiff.  Increased weight can cause the same problems except we can't set it down when we get tired, stiff or sore.  The bones and joints therefore have to take the extra stress leading to:

  • Arthritis: a medical condition affecting a joint or joints, causing pain, swelling, and stiffness
  • Joint problems

Why does increased fat both in our diet and on our bodies lead to increased cancer risks?  Toxins or carcinogen (cancer causing agents) are stored in fat.  That means that we each carry a certain amount of these toxins all the time.  When we eat a lot of fat or even have excess body fat, we increase the chances of cancer.  Obesity also increases hormone levels that could influence the development of cancer.  Adipose tissue is a major site of estrogen synthesis; estrogen has been implicated in the development of cancers in the female reproductive system.  These cancers account for half of all cancers in women.

Diabetes is three times more likely to develop in an overweight person.  Most of the weight may be what is called central, that is around the abdomen area.  Central body fat cells are larger and more insulin resistant.  Central body fat and insulin resistant cells increase the risk of developing NIDDM (non insulin diabetes mellitus or type 2 diabetes).
There has been a dramatic increase of NIDDM (Type 2 diabetes) in children as young as ten.

Listed below are some other health consequences of obesity:

  • Stroke: Stoppage of the blood flow to the brain
  • Gallbladder Disease
  • Sleep apnea: A temporary cessation of breathing that happens to some people while they are sleeping
  • Respiratory Problems
  • Endometrial, Breast, Prostate, and Colon Cancer

activity 2

* Which of the following listed below are health consequences of obesity:

What Causes Obesity?

There are many causes of obesity.  The most common causes are genetic factors, lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating patterns, or a combination of these factors. 

Studies have shown that an increase in the amount of juice children drink can be linked to the increase in childhood obesity. The fruit juice you receive from WIC can provide your child with good nutrients such as vitamin C, but an excessive amount of juice can cause problems.  If a child drinks more than 12 ounces of fruit juice a day they may be at risk for the following:

  • Obesity
    Children who drink more than 12 ounces of fruit juice a day are getting too many calories from non nutrient dense foods. These children are at risk of obesity.  If a child is drinking an excessive amount of juice they are also getting an excessive amount of calories. This juice may make them feel full and lead them to refuse nutrient dense foods essential for growth and development.
  • Tooth Decay
    Visit our Tooth Decay lesson for more information.
  • Diarrhea
    If your child is drinking too much fruit juice, more than 12 ounces, he may experience loose stools. Click here to view information
    on juice intake.

Other Suggested Changes in Eating Patterns

Lower fat and sugar consumption

  • Substitute whole milk with skim milk or low-fat milk. **Children under 2 should drink 2-3 8oz. glasses of milk/day.
  • Increase the number of vegetables 1-1/2 cups and fruits 1-2 cups of fruit daily. (Visit the My Pyramid website for more information).
  • Decrease portion sizes. Give second serving only if the child requests it. Never force a child to finish what is on the plate.
  • Drink more water instead of sugary drinks and sodas.
  • Eat cereals low in sugar such as Cheerios and Corn Flakes.

activity 3

* 1. Name the three most commont causes of obesity.

* 2. Your child should not drink more than _______ ounces of 100% Fruit Juice a day.


* 4. Click the box with the healthier snack choice:

popcorn jellybeans pie kiwi lowfat muffins cookies

Tips for Reducing Fat and Cholesterol in your Diet:

  • Choose lean cut meat, fish, and poultry.  Trim off all visible fat.  Animal fat is saturated fat and should be limited.
  • Avoid or limit deep-fried foods.
  • Cook by baking, broiling, poaching, steaming, or microwaving.
  • Switch to skim or 1% milk.  
  • Try salad dressings that are labeled nonfat or reduced calories
  • Use low fat or nonfat mayonnaise
  • Read labels and avoid products that contain coconut oil, palm oil, and cocoa butter. These are saturated fats.

Why is Physical Activity Important to Energy Balance?

  • Physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week is beneficial for people of all ages.  All you need is 30 minutes a day at least five days a week!  This can include playing chase in the yard with your family or dancing to music before dinner.  
  • Regular activity decreases appetite, gives a general sense of well being, decreases blood pressure, improves glucose metabolism and insulin reaction, improves cholesterol and is overall heart healthy!
  • Physical activity can help relieve stress, improve your sleep, clear your head, give you more energy, and boost self-confidence by improving your strength, stamina, and sense of control.

activity 4

1. Name at least 2 physical activities you can enjoy with your family.

2. Name 2 benefits of regular activity:

Tips for Fostering a Positive Body Image

Child or Adolescent


Look in the mirror and focus on your positive features, not the negative ones.

Demonstrate healthy eating behaviors, and avoid extreme eating behaviors.

Say something nice to your friends about how they look.

Focus on non-appearance-related traits when discussing yourself and others.

Think about your positive traits that are not related to appearance.

Praise your child or adolescent for academic and other successes.

Read magazines with a critical eye, and find out what photographers and computer graphic designers do to make models look the way they do.

Analyze media messages with your child or adolescent.

If you are overweight and want to lose weight, be realistic in your expectations and aim for gradual change.

Demonstrate that you love your child or adolescent regardless of what he or she weighs.

Realize that everyone has a unique size and shape.

If your child or adolescent is overweight, don't criticize her appearance - offer support instead.

If you have questions about your size or weight, ask a health professional.

Share with a health professional any concerns you have about your child's eating behaviors and body images.

This table was developed by Bright Futures in Practice: Nutrition, National Center for Education in Maternal and Child Health

Thank you for completing the Healthy Weight for Children Education Component. 


 * Where are you taking today's lesson?

You have completed the class on “Healthy Weight for Children”. If you have any questions or comments, please contact your LWP nutritionist who will be glad to answer any of your questions. 

Anti-Spam Validation:

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security text shown in the picture. Text is case sensitive.