Here's a surprise: "Overweight kids don't need to get any more exercise than normal-weight children. The daily requirements are the same. In fact, heavy children burn more calories doing the same activity -- simply because they have more mass and their bodies work harder," explains Thomas Robinson, M.D., director of the Center for Healthy Weight at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.
The dietary rules are similar, too: Offer plenty of healthy options -- lots of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean protein -- and go easy on processed foods, sweets, and high-fat items -- soda, chips, cookies, and pizza. "We avoid putting kids on a highly restrictive 'diet,' like the kind adults might go on. Following the old-fashioned wisdom of fewer 'calories in' versus 'calories out' should be enough to get your child's weight moving in the right direction without making it a Big Thing," he notes. And don't forget to consult your pediatrician.