Our love for our kids has no bounds. We want to see them happy – a dazzling smile on their face warms our hearts no end. In their happiness lies our own and the demands for fries, burgers, ice creams, candies, pastries etc, are fulfilled with a sigh. Slowly chubby cheeks begin to look a bit too chubby and the ‘cuddly bear’ really begins to look like one. Welcome to childhood obesity. This is an article that seeks to tackle issues related to childhood obesity and how we can stop childhood obesity.
Given that nearly 50% of the children aged between six and eleven are obese, your problem is probably shared with half the nation’s kids and their parents. Family health in general has deteriorated and especially in case of children, unhealthy eating patterns and lack of physical activity is the main cause for the rising obesity statistics. Eating habits are developed in early childhood; to stop childhood obesity, it is important to promote a healthy lifestyle early.
Reasons for Childhood Obesity
Genetics play a major role in deciding how large or small we will be. Hormones levels are also a factor that decides if a person will become obese or not. However, hormone levels and genetics are not the sole reasons for childhood obesity. More often, the major cause for a child to become overweight is lack of exercise coupled with an unhealthy diet comprising of foods rich in fats and sugar.
Dangers of Childhood Obesity
Obese children are at a higher risk to develop diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, sleep disorders and heart disease. They also go through emotional stress when they are the butt of jokes or teased mercilessly by other children at school. This may lead to anxiety, depression and can also cause behavioral problems as they grow older.
Tips for Parents to Stop Childhood Obesity
Early childhood is an important time in the development of eating patterns. Food preferences greatly influence a child’s food intake which later forms the foundation for their eating patterns. It is therefore crucial to introduce your child to healthy and nutritious foods at a young age. A healthy diet consists of all types of foods in moderation. American Dietary Guidelines provide recommendations for a healthy lifestyle for children. Parents can also take a number of steps to prevent childhood obesity.
- Make a variety of healthy foods available to your child, which includes foods from all the food groups, namely, grains, fruits, vegetables, milk, meats, fats and sweets. Growing children need to be given more milk and milk products while fats and sweets must be limited.
- As much as possible avoid buying packaged foods that are low in nutrition and high in calories. Explain to your child that candies, cakes and cookies are not to be had everyday. However, it is not advisable to ban sweets completely, so the occasional treat is a must to keep your child satisfied.
- Encourage your child to take up physical activities even if it is tossing around a ball in the backyard or taking a walk.
- These days, children spend many hours watching TV or playing video games and eating snacks at the same time, the classic example of a sedentary lifestyle. Discourage this practice as it is the main cause of childhood obesity.
- It is also important to limit time before the TV to one or two hours so that your child gets enough time for exercise and other physical activities like walking, hiking, cycling or playing active games.
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