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Helping Your Overweight Child

Overweight children are at higher risk of developing serious health issues, including:

  • Heart disease.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Diabetes.
  • Breathing problems.
  • Trouble sleeping.

Obesity is one of the easiest medical conditions to recognize but hardest to treat.
If you receive Medical Assistance and your school sent you a note that your child is possibly overweight, the information below can help you find:

  • A primary care provider.
  • Weight management specialist.
  • Local recreational activities.
  • Self-help materials.
  • Local farmers market.

Steps to help manage your overweight child:

  • Start slowly to change eating habits.
  • Plan meals and make healthier food selections.
  • Control portions to consume less calories.
  • Turn off the television.
  • Limit time spent playing video or computer games.
  • Increase physical activity and get active.
  • Know what your child eats at school.
  • Eat meals as a family instead.
  • Do not use food as a reward.
  • Limit snacking.

Tips for Parents:

  • Encourage healthy eating and regular exercise for your children.
  • Talk with your doctor about the best way to feed infants for the first four to six months of life.
  • Provide healthy food and drink choices by reading labels and looking at the nutritional value.
  • Help children learn to make good choices about the types of foods and drinks they consume.
  • Help children learn about portion control.
  • Limit children's TV watching, computer and gaming time to less than two hours a day.
  • Talk about weight status with your child's health care provider.
  • Learn about body mass index (BMI) and where your child stands.
  • Be positive role models for your children when it comes to nutrition and physical activity.

Resources for parents: 

  • BAM! Body and Mind from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • Center for Nutrition Policy & Promotion: This site helps to define and coordinate nutrition education policy within the United States Department of Agriculture, and provides materials for consumers, policymakers, and professionals in health, education, industry, and media.
  • Weight Control Information Network: Provides the general public, health professionals, the media, and Congress with up-to-date, science-based information on weight control, obesity, physical activity, and related nutritional issues.
  • Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture: Provides information regarding farmers' market locations, growing seasons for fruits and vegetables, and other agricultural information. 
  • Pennsylvania Department of Health: Resources to promote healthy eating.

If you are enrolled in HealthChoices and live in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, Lehigh, or Perry Counties, please call:

  • AmeriHealth Caritas Pennsylvania Member Services, 1-888-991-7200 (TTD/TTY 1-888-987-5704).
  • Gateway Health Plan Member Services, 1-800-392-1147 (TTD/TTY 1-800-654-5988).
  • Unison Health Plan/MedPlus+ Member Services, 1-800-414-9025 (TTD/TTY 1-888-616-0021)
    If you need an interpreter, please contact your health plan.