Weight Management Tips
For Kids and Teens

Young boy eating from a large white bowl

Although physical activity and food choices are the most critical factors in weight gain and loss, other factors including genetics, family, and social influences play a role. It is important to involve the whole family in making healthy choices and to set a positive example.

Be Wise about Portion Size

Many times, the portion sizes you receive in restaurants or eat at home are much larger than the recommended amount. Remember that if you eat more food than you need during the day, it can lead to weight gain. Below is a table listing some common portion sizes appropriate for children and teens age 10 and over.

Portion Sizes

Food Serving Size About the Size Of…
Meat, Poultry, Fish 2 to 3 ounces Deck of cards or palm of your hand
Pasta, rice 1/2 cup Small computer mouse or the size of your fist
Cooked vegetables 1/2 cup Small computer mouse
Fruit 1/2 cup Small computer mouse or a medium apple, pear or orange
Cheese 1 1/2 ounces hard cheese C battery or your thumb

Table taken from the American Dietetic Association

Tips for Dining Out

  • Ask for the lunch portion or share an entrée with a family member or friend.
  • Get a to-go box when you are served and put half the meal into it before you start to eat.
  • Make smart choices when it comes to side items and condiments. For example, have a baked potato or vegetable of the day instead of French fries. Limit your use of margarine, butter, mayo, sour cream, and salad dressing.

Balance What you Eat

  • Try to eat fruits and vegetables of all colors to get the many different vitamins and minerals that they provide.
  • Incorporate low-fat and fat-free dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese into your diet.
  • When selecting meat, look for leaner options. Beans are also a low-fat protein source.
  • When purchasing bread and bread products, go for the whole-grains. Choose cereals that are lower in sugar. Look at the food label to compare products.
  • Limit the fats and sweets in your diet. Look for “low-fat”, “low-calorie”, and “low-sodium” on your food labels.

Tips for Leading an Active Lifestyle

  • Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity per day (ask your doctor before starting any new exercise plan).
  • Plan regular physical activities such as after-dinner walks.
  • Limit TV and computer time.
  • Focus on fun rather than skill.
  • Encourage kids to play outside with other children. If it is not possible to play outside, try exercise videos, dancing, or jumping rope.
  • Use fun physical activities as a reward.
  • Build physical activity into your regular routine by taking the stairs or parking far away from a store and walking.
  • Incorporate daily chores into your routine with activities such as walking the dog, gardening, or cleaning.
  • If your child uses a wheelchair, consider swimming pool activities or wheelchair sports. Ask your healthcare team about opportunities in your area.