My preteen seems to be eating more. Should I worry about obesity?
Because the average age of puberty is inching down to the preteen years in some girls, it is not surprising that girls with younger onset of puberty need more calories as they put on more body fat both in their breasts (early on during puberty) and on their hips (later on). Boys gain more muscle mass during puberty and that might translate into higher weight. However, pubescent kids need more calories to support these normal changes as well as to maximize their growth potential, which is a later part of puberty.
The main thing is for preteens to eat three well-balanced meals a day. Remind your child not to forget breakfast! It is also important for preteens to exercise to avoid childhood obesity. If a preteen is involved with many sports or plays one sport more than one day a week, he/she needs more calories not only to support this high level of activity but also to not compromise their growth and development.
If your child is sedentary and seems to be gaining an excessive amount of weight, it is time to discuss this with your health-care provider who may refer your child to a nutritionist who will educate you and your child about nutritional needs during this critical time of growth and development.
Keep healthy snacks around such as fruits, vegetables, peanut butter or soy nut butter, crackers, low-fat yogurt and low-fat dairy products. You want your child to keep a healthy balance of diet and exercise. Encourage physical activity by exercising as a family. Take bike rides or hikes on the weekends or encourage siblings to play tennis together.
Chat it up with other parents of preteens to see how they're dealing.