Should I Be Worried About My 7 Yo Daughters Weight?

Updated on April 12, 2011
K.P. asks from Philadelphia, PA
17 answers

I'm getting worried and not sure how to handle on a day to day basis when communicating to her. She is 7 and in first grade. Our first born so she is the pickiest of eaters. The problem I have is that she only likes carbohydrates. Maybe I am to blame, all I had when I was pregnant with her were bagels with cream cheese. :) I wouldn't consider her overweight, as her pediatrician would tend to agree. But, I see her Daddy's genes in her and the road that she may go down. She just has that middle that always looks plump. She still has that trace of baby fat around her arms and wrists, etc. I worry because the things she wants to eat which we rarely have in our house, I turn down and suggest, grapes, apples, carrots, wheat thins, etc. Something other than a large bowl of pringles, or a bagel at 4 in the afternoon. I try to keep a tight schedule for when all meals and snacks occur. We have fast food once a month. That's all they are allowed. She generally is a restless kid. Not one that can just sit there. More so always wanting to do something active. So, any suggestions on a few of these things? Like, how to get her interested or eating more proteins. Any tricks out there? And, am I being to conscious of this because of what society forces down our throats? I even get worried when my husband basically yells at her to eat her dinner (just like our parents did). This makes me feel like, oh god, she's going to have an eating disorder now. And, I don't know her weight since she was last weighed in last September by her pediatrician. She falls in the upper percentile for her age. Anyone else feeling the pressure to watch their kids weight these days? And, how do you communicate eating to them without making them feel like they are doing something wrong? Oh and trust me, I have explained nutrition to her and so has her school. Which is a whole another issue right there. Their food and menus are horrendous for nutritional value. Ugh.

What can I do next?

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answers from Houston on

Don't offer her Pringles... keep that kind of food in a locked pantry or out of the home.

She does need to eat her dinners, at large least portions of healthy fruits and veggies from her plate before she can go play, watch tv, talk on the phone, or have dessert.

At her age, you could be packing a lunch and she could be trading it for a snickers bar and bag of cheetohs at lunch. SO, it really is important you get her the best nutrition available at home.

Help her learn to plan dinners and maybe even teach her how to help cook. Getting kids involved in the kitchen can help improve their eating habits.

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answers from New York on

My son likes to help cook, have you tried that?
Sometimes he doesnt eat much at dinner time, if he eats a small serving of dinner then he gets a Small dessert, than at bedtime he eats a healthy snack, for some reason he will usually eat a nice amount of whatever I serve him at bedtime, cherry tomatoes, and bananas or wheat crackers and grapes and strawberries, or carrots and cheddar cheese.
I never worried about my kid's weight, just kept junk food to a minimum.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think the bigger deal you make out of it, the bigger deal it will become. She is far too young to be concerned with "baby fat around her middle & wrists." The *norm* is a wide range. My son has a good 20 lbs on his best bud--neither are in the obese range, they just have completely different body types.
Remember, aside from focusing on healthy fuel for a body, she doesn't need a mom that's trying to fit her into a bell curve.

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answers from Fort Wayne on

I don't think you should be worried about her weight so much, but her eating habits, definitely.
It's time to take charge of her eating. She can only eat a large bowl of Pringles for a snack if you let her. If she's hungry, but turns down a healthy snack...well, she's not all that hungry. Stop buying the crappy foods. No more chips, junk food, etc. Just buy healthy foods. If it's not available, she can't eat it. She won't have much of a choice.
It can take lots and lots of exposures for a kid to be able to determine if she really likes something. Also, our tastes change. It's important to instill good eating habits now so that she doesn't have problems later in life.
Here's what we did (we did this when my daughter was 3, not 7, so I would expect it to be harder for you to implement): we told my daughter she had to take 3 (because she was 3) "no thank you" bites. After she ate her 3 bites of the food, then she didn't have to eat anymore. She didn't get a snack and she had to sit at the table till the rest of us were finished. We tried not to yell at her to eat more or finish her dinner. She ate the 3 bites and that was that. When she would see something on her plate that she didn't like, she would start whining. We just said very matter of factly "Eat your 3 bites then you can be done." Anytime she would whine, we'd say "Eat your 3 bites, then you can be done." It took some time, but she finally got it. She would eat her 3 bites with little fuss. Gradually, she came to like foods that she previously hated. She's 4 now and will eat almost anything. If we have something new, she knows she has to take the 3 bites.
Make sure the portions you are serving her are the correct ones for her body. You could probably Google what the correct portions would be. It's important to teach them to listen to their bodies. At 7, she should be able to tell you when she's full. But, you have to watch that she doesn't say "I'm full" and then want a snack 5 minutes later. Kids are tricky like that :)
I do think that we are getting nutrition sort of shoved down our throats at every turn, but I think it's necessary. The USA has a very real obesity epidemic. We eat far too much over processed food and move too little. I'm not saying that you have to eat whole foods all the time or that the occasional chicken nugget or fish stick is horrible. It's all about moderation. It's about learning what we're putting in our bodies and knowing what it does to them. It's about teaching our children to make good food choices because we want them to grow up to be healthy.
As far as communicating, just tell her the truth. Yes, junk food tastes good, but it's not good for us. Our bodies need healthy foods to work. We need good foods for energy so we can play. It never has to be a discussion about weight. You're not wanting her to eat better because she's fat. You want her to eat better so that she's healthier. They're not always the same thing :)

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answers from Honolulu on

Kids, are active, go through growth-spurts, and eat a lot.
They also need to snack. So that they do not get Hypoglycemic and their blood sugar drops, and they then get fussy.

Kids like carbs, because it is quick energy and feeds the brain.

Kids expend a lot of energy physically and mentally.

Kids, often go through developmental phases of being lean then chubby-ing out. The physique of a child, is NEVER static. It changes, per age, per development.
It fluctuates. Normal.

If she wants carbs, then buy whole grain types. There are even whole grain organic chips. Go to Whole Foods. For example.
Buy healthier whole grain alternatives... to what she craves.
There are even whole grain, bagels.

Don't keep junk food in the house.
You don't have to tell her "these chips are healthy and whole grain." Just tell her you have this brand of chips. That's it. The Pringles are not allowed. We don't buy it.

Yelling at her for mealtimes, is bad.
You know that.
Eating... is not something to punish for or reward.
Eating... should be according to the child's body cues, for fullness or hunger. Not based on eating to 'please' a parent or eating out of boredom or emotion based issues. Because, that, is unhealthy. Down the road too.

My kids, have ALWAYS been in the upper percentiles for growth. They eat a ton. Especially at growth-spurt periods. But they are tall lean solid kids.
Even 10 minutes after eating a meal, my daughter will be hungry again. But, I have NO problem whatsoever, with them eating or eating snacks. Because- we do not keep junk food in the house. So no matter what they eat or crave, it is healthy.

You just teach them to eat according to their body cues for hunger or fullness. We don't force our kids to eat and finish, their whole plate at meal times. IF they are full, they are full. That's fine. That is normal.

We also teach them, that when there are commercials on TV for cereals/snacks/foods... what is JUNK and what is healthy. Even my 4 year old son, knows that those character based cereals for kids are JUNK. Because is it only full of sugar and food coloring. We teach them that. HOW to discern... healthy and junk food.
It is about educating them.
Not basing it on emotional reasons.

Having 'baby fat' at this age, is not wrong or bad.
My kids still have baby fat.
They are not 'fat' however... they are healthy tall lean kids, for their ages. And in the upper percentiles for growth.
I let them snack.
We don't buy junk. We do not feed them junk.
They are healthy.

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answers from Portland on

Take the junk out of the house. The foods you argue about, take out of the house. Things are a lot simpler that way. Don't bring pringles or bagels into the house. It sounds like she might get too many choices. Offer set meals and snacks, and let that be it. Unless you are prepared to only give her choices that are healthy. I give my own daughter a lot of freedom for snack-time, because I have only healthy options for her. There is yogurt, hummus, veggies and fruit in the fridge for her. And in the cupboard there is granola, nori, peanut-butter and rice crackers. That is all I offer her for snacks. I try to set her up for success. Don't give her a choice to opt out of what you offer at regular mealtimes. If she eats, that is great, if she declines that is okay too. Don't waste the energy yelling at her to eat dinner...instead spend that energy being firm on what is offered.

And about the fast food...I used to go once a month too...the last time I went, I looked up how many calories are in a regular kids meal. Almost 1000 calories!!! And that was in a meal that had grilled cheese for the entree! I have since quit going even once a month, I could not get over how many calories and how much fat was in a kids meal.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

I wouldn't worry about her weight at this point. There's all sorts of normal body styles that are healthy.

As far as food, it sounds like its mostly starches (breads, chips, etc) that she eats (and you're worried about). Don't make a big deal of it, you don't want her to get self-conscious.
We try to have mostly healthy choices around. I guess I'm lucky, my kids go for apples and raisins almost as fast as chips and candy. I found that it is especially helpful if you limit the unwanted foods in the house. Don't have chips around, she'll have to learn something else. (But do have a good variety).
As far as protein, does she eat peanut butter? How about hummus or bean dip? Let her have the bagel (I limit my kids to 1 a day, and sometimes just 1/2) as long as she puts pb on it. Or crackers with hummus or bean dip. Mixing the grains/legumes is a great way to get protein, that's how many vegetarians do it. Also milk, eggs, etc. :)
Really, while too many starches and simple sugars can be not great, portions are the biggest thing. Most people (kids and adults) who are overweight just plain eat too much of whatever they eat. As long as you teach her to listen to the signals her body sends. Stop eating when she is full. And teach what an appropriate serving looks like.
Make sure she gets lots of activity. Active kids NEED more carbs, too, so it will help balance that out. Maybe you can enroll her in soccer or dance or gymnastics or something. In fact, when active, I've noticed kids tend to crave healthier foods (I do too!), and if her body needs protein from the exercise she's more likely to want it.

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answers from Allentown on

Hi, U:
Don't buy any snacks unless they are fruit and cheese.
You don't have to tell her not to eat things.
Just provide what she needs and set boundaries.

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answers from Washington DC on

At this age - she needs her "plump" once she hits puberty. I don't feel the need to "monitor" as much as I do make sure that my kids are healthy. Don't feel the "peer pressure" to follow society - your daughter needs to be healthy!

What you should be worried about is her diet. If overweight runs in her genes - you need to help stave that off!

Just EXPLAINING to her is not SHOWING or leading by example. You need to start preparing meals at home that are nutritional and balanced. Keep the snacks more healthy - more fruit, veggies, etc. Stop with the oreos, cup cakes, etc. (i'm being hypothetical here) but change the snacks in the home - she MUST know about positive eating habits - NUTRITIONAL eating habits - not just what society is posing on us.

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answers from Milwaukee on

I worry about my daughter's weight and she is 5. She is in the 96% for height and 98% for weight. The doc said in the next year or two she would like to see the BMI come down. She's not worried about it yet, but would like to see it lower. My kiddo always wants junk. I tell her one junk a day. She also always wants to eat. I even have to watch how much fruit and veggies she has because she will go overboard on those.

I am not very active and this is impacting my daughter. This weekend we took a road trip and went hiking. She loved it. I plan on doing it at least once a month now. She finally also got over her fear of her bike and wants to ride all the time. Now that it's getting nicer out, I will do this more with her too.

I think at this age, they still have that bit of baby fat to help w/ growth spurts. Mine has a belly. It's not huge, but it's there. It worries me, but I never say anything to her about it. I just try and help her focus on eating healthy to keep our bodies healthy and strong.

This is also why my mother has very limited one on one time w/ my daughter. She will take her out for breakfast, then to McD's for lunch, and then give her ice cream and candy for snacks and tea parties. She doesn't get it and it's where I learned my poor eating habits from and lazy lifestyle. I don't want to do that to my kiddo.

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answers from Muncie on

I think getting her into sports might help. You mentioned she likes being active, it might also help her connect the need for balance in her meals to doing well in her sport of choice.

Also, you may need to put your foot down at dinner time. A firm "This is what we've got so this is what you'll eat." You're doing well so far with not having the "bad" things in the house. Maybe sit her down and tell her that there will be no more fights at the table, at all. That what you put in on her plate she must eat. That you work hard to make dinner for everyone and she is being very impolite not eating. Letting her help you cook might be helpful too. Might give her an idea of how hard you work.

I know how you feel, my daughter can be very picky. I have an eating disorder, undiagnosed, but I'm doing what I can to change my views on food while trying not to pass on my horrible habits to my DD. It's not easy, but you aren't alone.

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answers from Philadelphia on

well try hummus with crackers. hummus is made from beans. beans have lots of protein. i would check out jessica simpson 2 cookbooks. especially the first one. the first one has ton of recipes specifically for picky eaters. making brownies with spinach puree. scrambled eggs with puree cauliflower. you cant taste the veggies in her recipes.
also kids need to taste a food somewhere like 5 times before they like it. so dont give up. make her eat one mushroom each time you make the mushrooms...eventually she will enjoy eating them.
also i found that when my kids wont eat a particular food or are going thru a picky time. i found if they help make the dinner they are more likely to taste and enojoy the food.
also i have another very basic kids cookbook. its called 365 foods kids love to eat. by shella ellison/ judith gray

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think some of the other moms have hit the nail on the head: I wouldn't worry about her weight (and I certainly wouldn't worry her about her weight) but I would be working hard to create good nutritional choices in her. You know yourself she's eating too many unhealthy carbs. Get the junk out of the house. If it came from the aisle of a grocery store (juice,cereal, chips, cookies, bread, bagels, pasta, rice, etc.) then get it out of your house-- especially if you are people who are carb sensitive yourselves. Lots of fruits, veggies, meats, cheeses, no sugar added yogurt (I sweeten ours with frozen berries) etc. As far as getting her to eat it-- if that is what there is and what you are eating, she'll eat it. School lunches are a problem-- will she pack a lunch? But even if she won't, if you can send her off to school with a high protein/fat breakfast (we all need more fat if we are cutting carbs-- you have to get your energy from somewhere), and she eats a good dinner, you will be instilling good food choices in her. Does this take extra time/money? Yes. But what better to spend your time and money on?

Help her learn to avoid food in a box or a can and it will be a lot easier for her to make good choices. Good for you for taking this so seriously-- our kids are too important to let the food industry take advantage of them.



answers from New York on

i think she is young enough for you to dictate what will be on the table, and what snacks she can have. she is young enough to have baby fat for a while. i think you should just eliminate all foods that you don't want brought in. carbs are good but not as the only food she will have. replace pringels with multigrain chips (individual bags that are small enough). if she likes crunchy stuff, get fruit crisps, they look like chips. have fruit and yoghurt handy so when she asks for a snack you offer what you have. she will resist them for a while because she is used to other things. but eventually when there is nothing else, she will come around. it's not the society that dictates how we should look, it's the individual health that we should be concerned about. if the school menu is not good, you start packing her school morning/afternoon, and the lunch. don't give her spending money in school.
also, if she is more of a snack child, then take that concept completely out until she learns to eat properly. have 3 meals a day with fruit and yoghurt in between only. i say start now because it will get harder for you to manage her as she grows older.
i am pretty liberal as to what enters my house but i have strict rules about how much and when. my kids don't get desserts every night after dinner. i think that way too much. who needs all that sugar? fruit comes after dinner. my kids love chips too so that is why they get only healthy options. i did this when they were 3-4 years old. i ran into struggle but i changed their eating habits. nowadays my kids consider fruit as yummi snack. it was not always like this. i made the change. i see so many of their peers already overweight. they can't run, they swear easily, they have no energy, and they eat a whole lot of bad foods. and they're soo young it's sad.



answers from Provo on

It is hard for young children to relate to proper diet and the food triangle at a young age. However, try to get her interested in some kind of physical activity. A lot of times the coach will get the kids interested in a certain kind of diet to be able to succeed.



answers from Philadelphia on

The cover of USA Today yesterday had an article that touches on your concerns. It discussed that girls are entering puberty earlier than ever before and they believe it is a result of the heavier weight that most children seem to have. It said that girls used to be thinner longer and this would delay menstruation. Unfortunately, since most kids diets are not what they were when we were growing up it is causing Estrogen and other hormones to be released sooner jumpstarting puberty as early as 7. I don't know about you but this deeply concerns me. Hence, I think you have every right to be worried about your daughters weight b/c there are too many issues that arise for overweight children.


answers from Seattle on

I want to first say... GOOD FOR YOU!! It takes alot for a mom to handle weight issues with their kiddos. It doesnt sound like you are in the midst of crisis you are just looking ahead to know what you may possibly have on your plate.

Please tell your hubby to lighten up. He could scare her into an eating disorder. at this point one that could go either way. she may not understand why he is yelling at her to finish her dinner. He may not know why he does either.

She is also so little still. She is going to have growth spurts soon, where she is going to need the baby weight that is left over. It is hard for us to remember that from when we were kids.

It is good that you keep meals on schedule. Keeping up with her doc is the other best thing right now you can do. Make sure that if she is a carb junkie..which, i know no one has ever not been this at one time or another...make sure she is getting veggie with the carbs. or see if she would trade one snack or meal that would normally be a carb for something that is not.

I would also not make a big deal about this in front of her. she is too young to fully understand. It is good you are keeping her involved in her nutritional choices. I think education on the matter is the best thing we can offer our kids. Take her to the store with you when you do your food shopping to. this will get her involved in the FAMILY choices being made. The control they feel is amazing and worth it. Maybe get her excited about packing a lunch rather then buying lunch at school. I know being in first grade and buying lunch gives them a whole new sense of freedom. Maybe letting her pack her lunch will give her another chance to feel more grown up and in control of her choices. Just know that..setting guideline for lunch packing is going to be another learning experience for you two.

My milkshake in the middle weighed in at almost nine lbs at birth and has always just been a few lbs under his older brother since he was one. He just has my moms side of the family in him more then my 7-10 split do. i have just kept up on what we keep in the house and what they are allowed to snack on. He also is more of my laid back kiddo. He it not excited about having to run anywhere or having to do anything that requires alot of movement outta him. He is only four. so i am not stressing myself yet about it too bad. I just know, like you when the time comes it is going t otake a lot more research and time to make sure he is the healthy kid he needs to be. you are doing everything right it sounds like so far. you have a tough job as mom to balance their physical well being as well as making sure they are happy with who they are. You need to make her feel beautiful and confident in the little girl she is becoming and the young woman she is blossoming into. Let her know that life is not going to bring her a supermodel body and and roses. there are only a handful of women out there lucky enough to be blessed with the ability to be photographed thin. The rest are airbrushed and photo-shop'd in. I couldnt imagine raising a little girl in this day and age. It is so hard to be happy with who you are, when main stream is still shoving skinny down our throats. I wish that main stream could hop on the band wagon of...skinny is not all it is made to be.

I have written a novel yet again. I just think it is so important to not let weight and food and body imagine control us. again this is something I at 27 am jsut coming to terms with.

Amen for you!! your are doing great!

I wanted to add too... DO NOT LET ANYONE GIVE HER GRIEF AT THIS POINT FOR HER WEIGHT. i AM NOT SAYING YOU ARE. JUST DEFEND HER HONOR IN FRONT OF HER IF ANYONE EVER DOES THIS IN FRONT OF YOU. My little sister thinks it is funny to call little guy chubby or chunk. I dont know how many times I have had to stand up for him to her and he doesnt even pay any mind to the comments now. I just know that if i allow then to be said now..eventually it will be said when it does stick to him or he wil lpull it from his subconscienes later in life. Her remembering you defend her now..will only help her defend herself against bullying in the future. It will give her the mind set to deal with it head on. whether it be bullying for being fat or skinny or anything inbetween. I think it is positive tool to teach her. life eventually is going to give her something to make her selfconscious, and her being able to look back and say to whom ever she needs to.... I AM WHO I AM AND I AM BEAUTIFUL.... AND LETTING THEM KNOW THEY CANT GET HER DOWN...IS A POWERFUL TOOL!! you hold the key to this feeling to grow inside her. No one will get her down..they can only get down people who allow them to beat them up. she shows strengths from the starting gate...she will be golden.

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