Childhood obesity is fast becoming endemic among modern day children as they increasingly lead a sedentary lifestyle along with bad eating habits. Parents need to take heed to prevent this problem.
Obesity is a big problem, no matter what age you are. So, when your child is obese, you need to seriously worry because the chances are that your child will become an obese adult and suffer from many health issues related to excess weight.
Therefore, nip the issue of childhood obesity in the bud by following some simple steps, mentioned as follows.
BMI: The first step to beat childhood obesity
Before attempting to right a wrong situation, it is of utmost importance to be completely aware of it. Hence, the first and arguably the most important step is to calculate your child’s body mass index (BMI) to gain an idea about where their current weight lies on the BMI scale.
The BMI of a person is basically means of quantifying the tissue mass in a person’s body by taking their height and weight into consideration.
Obesity prevalence in various age groups was recorded by the CDC as follows:
|Age Group||Percentage of obese population|
|2-5 years old||13.9%|
|6-11 years old||18.4%|
|12-18 years old||20.6%|
Calculate the BMI of your child using any of the free online resources available over the internet, and determine which of the various categories—underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese—he or she falls in.
Now that we have assessed the current situation, we may take steps to correct it.
Identify the culprits
This tip involves observing your child’s as well as your own daily habits to figure out the areas where improvement is well overdue. The said areas could be dietary habits, lifestyle choices (like how much time your kids spend outdoors and so on) and even sleeping patterns.
In certain cases of childhood obesity, the cause of obesity may be genetic, and it is highly recommended to consult a physician or a doctor who is well aware of your family history before making any dietary changes.
This step is crucial as not only does it provides valuable insight into what all we are doing wrong, but also saves time by pinpointing the exact problem.
Get rid of all the junk food
This is probably the most common advice received related to weight loss and childhood obesity prevention, but that does not make it any less true. It involves thorough cleaning of the pantry of the house to ensure that only healthy options are available to children, thereby setting them up to make healthier eating choices.
- Remove all the junk food from the house, including packaged snacks like chips and cookies. If there is no junk food in the house, the kids cannot consume it, which automatically improves their diet.
- Replace the junk food items with healthier alternatives to deal with those in-between-meals hunger pangs. For example, potato chips can be replaced with plantain chips, and normal French fries can give way to sweet potato fries.
- Whole wheat donuts and cookies baked at home with healthier ingredients can easily step in for the unhealthier, store-bought alternatives.
- Once healthier alternatives are presented to children, it is best to not exercise control over their portions for the first couple of days. This helps the children be more aware of their body and its needs, as well as be more responsible while eating.
Children are more likely to improve their eating habits and do their bit in obesity prevention when they are held accountable by someone else. One of the most important contributors to childhood obesity prevention is the family of the child.
- Planning and preparing healthy meals as a family is always a great way to introduce the child to a healthier lifestyle.
- Involve the children as much as possible in the food cooking process, and regularly reprise them about the benefits of the healthier alternatives.
- Plan outdoor activities that involve physical work as a family. The frequency of said activities can be adjusted according to various factors, to ensure that it always remains enjoyable.
- Pets can help prevent your child from getting obese too. Ask your kids to walk the dog on a regular basis, which shall help them get exercise as well.
Most importantly, a family provides the support and encouragement that every child needs, especially while making such drastic changes to their lifestyle.
It is always helpful to talk with your kids every once in a while, to understand how they are dealing with the changes and whether they need any changes made or not.
Mix passion with health
The easiest thing for any child to do is to sit around and watch television, and this is where you, as a parent, need to step in. Determine which sport your child is interested in and encourage them to participate in it.
- Enroll them in regular classes that involve physical activity, like dance classes or gymnastics, or any such activity.
- Map out the hiking trails, parks and wildlife areas around your residence and accompany your child to such places. This not only helps them in losing weight but also instills a love for the outdoors in them by bringing them closer to nature.
Make smart choices
Most people think childhood obesity prevention means banishing all kinds of fat and anything tasty from their diets, which is not the case. Instead of getting rid of all things tasty, it is more important to make smart decisions when it comes to food.
- It is important to include the good fats in your diet and eliminate the saturated fats. Unsaturated fats that are healthy, include avocado oil, fish oil, and oils and fats obtained from nuts and seeds.
- Saturated fats, however unhealthy, cannot be completely eradicated from our diets. Hence, it is advised to choose them wisely. Saturated fat up to 10 percent are permissible in a person’s diet and do not cause much harm. These include butter, ghee, refined oil as well as nuts like peanuts and cashews.
- Sodas and other aerated drinks are heavily calorie-laden and must be replaced with fruit juices and milk wherever possible. This significantly reduces the sugar intake and juices and milk provide other health benefits as well.
- Encourage children to eat as much organic produce and whole foods as possible. This helps them to obtain various essential nutrients.
Hence, the process of childhood obesity prevention must begin with a careful assessment of the situation by calculating the body mass index of the child.
This should be followed by taking appropriate steps to improve the situation, but the most important thing to do here is to keep trying and not give up. Things shall seem difficult in the beginning, and the children may even act out, but the key here is to keep at it, and sure enough, things shall get better.
Can short-term dieting help a child in battling obesity?
Short-term diets are only helpful in kick-starting the weight loss process, but the child can quickly gain all the weight back if they revert to their old ways. Making lifestyle changes is what leaves a lasting impact.
What are some of the main health consequences for childhood obesity?
Cardiovascular diseases, early onset diabetes and certain types of cancers (like breast and colon cancer) are few of the vast variety of health consequences of childhood obesity.
What is BMI?
BMI stands for body mass index, and it is a method of quantifying the total amount of tissue mass in a person’s body. It is calculated using the person’s height and weight.
How do I replace the high-calorie soft drinks in my child’s diet?
Aerated soft drinks are very high in calorie and should be replaced with fruit juices and milk. Flavoured milk is a tasty yet healthy alternative for sodas.
What are some of the exercises a child should indulge in?
Skipping, running, and even yoga are easy yet effective physical activities a child can easily indulge in.
To get a clearer insight into childhood obesity and know how to prevent childhood obesity, check in with our Truweight Nutritionist and Weight Consultant right here.