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Advice for parents of overweight children

Children can become overweight when they get more energy from food and drink than they use through activity.

Overweight children are more likely to become overweight as adults. This could lead to long-term conditions such as type 2 diabetes.

Making changes to their diet and activity levels can help them reach a healthy weight.


Check if your child is a healthy weight

It can be difficult to tell if a child is overweight as they're still growing.

You can check by calculating their body mass index (BMI).

The result will be given as a centile (or percentile).

You'll need to know their date of birth, height, weight and when you measured them.

Calculate your BMI for children and teenagers

Tips to help your child reach a healthier weight


  • get active everyday – find an activity they enjoy, such as sports, playground activities or walking to school

  • use rewards such as stickers or high fives when they reach their weight goals

  • aim to give them a healthy, balanced diet that includes fruit and vegetables, starchy foods, protein and dairy or dairy alternatives

  • set realistic targets and involve your child in deciding what changes you're going to make

  • encourage a healthy attitude to eating – you can be a good role model by staying active and eating healthily

  • help them get enough sleep – follow a regular bedtime routine and remove digital screens, such as mobile phones or tablets, from their bedroom at night


  • do not give them adult-sized portions – use a smaller plate for their meals and start with small servings

  • do not give them drinks high in sugar or fat – avoid fizzy drinks and consider swapping whole milk for semi-skimmed milk for children over 2 years old

Further information

Access over 100 free healthy recipes

Filter recipes by ingredients and cooking time to find a new family favourite.

Visit recipes on NHS Healthier Families

Discover new games, activities and sports

Exercise is a great way to improve co-ordination and self-confidence.

Visit activities on NHS Healthier Families

Have a balanced diet

Children from the age of 2 years old should start to follow the Eatwell Guide.

The Eatwell Guide

Exercise guidelines for children

Children should be active every day to help them develop strong bones and muscles.

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Page last reviewed: 4 April 2023
Next review due: 4 April 2026