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About one third of American children and 15% of teenagers are overweight or obese. A variety of factors contributes to childhood obesity, including learned patterns of behavior, genetics, a decreased emphasis on physical activity and exercise, and access to inexpensive, calorically dense fast foods (typically rich in fats and sugars but limited in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients). School nurses, pediatricians, and other health care professionals who provide care to children should help educate children about healthy food choices and portion sizes and the need to increase activity and decrease caloric intake. Parents should be taught to avoid overfeeding infants and to familiarize themselves with nutritional needs and optimum growth rates. The overweight child should be assisted in keeping a record of what, where, and when he/she eats to help identify situations that lead to overeating. Unhealthy weight loss behaviors, such as fad diets or purging, are discouraged. Children and teens benefit from weight loss support programs. Snacks should consist of foods such as raw vegetables rather than cookies, candies, or sugary drinks. Families that exercise together (as by walking, hiking, biking, swimming) provide children with interest in, knowledge of, and practice in activities that help to maintain desired weight levels.