The Biggest Loser Kid Plan

With child obesity at an all-time high, The Biggest Loser teamed up with experts to help kids change their lives. This weight-loss plan, created exclusively for kids by pediatrician Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, is designed to stop bad eating habits from forming.

Posted on | By Joanna Dolgoff, MD

Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right is a child and adolescent weight nutrition program that has helped thousands of kids lose (or maintain) their weight and learn healthy eating habits. Designed by pediatrician Joanna Dolgoff, MD, the program has not only proven itself to be an effective way for children to lose weight, it is also medically founded to ensure that children continue to get the important nutrients they need to grow strong, healthy bodies.   

Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right is based on the principles of the traffic light and uses the power of play to get families excited about healthy eating. Green Light foods are lowest in calories (Go!); Yellow Light foods are moderate in calories (Slow!); Red Light foods are highest in calories (Uh-oh!).

Based on their height, weight, age, gender and goals, children get a certain number of green light foods to eat at each meal and snack. Fruits and vegetables are considered "free fuel" and can be eaten as often as desired. Best of all, each participant gets two red light foods to eat each week so there is no deprivation or off-limit foods.

  • There is no complicated calorie counting. Using colors instead of calories makes healthy eating simple and fun, so kids of all ages can enjoy playing with their food, and parents across the board – informed, uninformed, busy – can understand how to help their children change how they eat without promoting calorie guilt or diet obsession.
  • No foods are off-limits, from chocolate to cheese, home-cooked meals to fast food. Kids can go to a birthday party and eat pizza and cake with their friends (and then make healthier choices during the week)! It’s a real-world game plan, with real-world options, preferences and lifestyles.
  • Kids actually learn to make healthier choices for themselves, which empowers them to make healthy choices for a lifetime. There is no tricking or deception; no complicated calculations to confuse their food choices.
  • Overweight children don’t feel singled out and siblings in a normal weight range can improve their health too because the full spectrum of eaters can be accommodated – over- or under-, picky or undiscerning, parent or child. 

The Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right program also tackles the important issues surrounding child and adolescent weight management – from talking to your children about their weight to raising siblings with different body types – and gives tips on how to follow the program while dining out, going to birthday parties, and celebrating the holidays.

The program includes sample menus, recipes, fun activities that count as exercise and an index of thousands of color-coded foods.

The Basic Rules

  1. Green Light foods are low in calories. Yellow Light foods are moderate-calorie. Red Light foods are high in calories.
  2. Kids get a certain number of Green Light foods at each meal and snack (based on age, gender, height and weight). 
  3. Fruits and vegetables are "Free Fuel" foods which are unlimited; kids can eat as much of them as they want.
  4. Kids get 2 Red Light Foods to eat each week so there is no deprivation and no food is off-limits. 

The Advanced Rules

  1. Green Light foods are divided into "Healthy Greens" and "Junky Greens," as many lower calorie foods have no nutritional value. Kids may eat one "Junky Green" a day. The rest of the food choices should be "Healthy Greens".
  2. To eat a Yellow Light food, kids must give up 2 Green Light foods. Kids learn that when they make healthy choices, they can eat more. When they make a less healthy choice, they eat less.

The Foods

Green Light

  • Low in calories and fat
  • Lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy products

Yellow Light

  • Moderately high in calories and fat
  • Eat in moderation
  • Red meat, hot dogs, chicken nuggets, tuna salad, hash browns, mashed potatoes, most granola bars, movie-theater popcorn, animal crackers

Red Light

  • High in calories, fat and sugar
  • Only eat twice a week
  • Ribs, fried chicken wings, fettucini alfredo, pizza, cake, cupcakes, pie, premium ice cream

For more information, go to redlightgreenlighteatright.com.

Article written by Joanna Dolgoff, MD
Child Obesity Specialist for The Biggest LoserAuthor of Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right