Childhood obesity and what you can do about it as a parent.
Here is some fact check or rather a fat check. Did you know India has the second-highest number of obese children globally? According to one report, 14.4 million children in the country are obese. This is not just about India, one out of every third child in the US is obese! These trends are a worrying sign as children are the future of humanity. Parents need to understand that childhood obesity can lead to health complications such as diabetes, heart attack, hypertension, and high cholesterol. It is not just physical changes, but excess weight and obesity can be detrimental to a child’s mental health and self-esteem.
Child obesity has reached epidemic proportions and needs course correction soon. The COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse for kids. Not only have they been deprived to go outside but they have also indulged in unhealthy food and lifestyle habits at home. These habits are not only adding inches to their waist but also increasing worries for their parents. To find solutions, one must look for the root causes of obesity in children.
What are the Major Causes of Childhood Obesity?
Children need to do a lifestyle homework
Obesity is mainly a lifestyle-related disease. This means the wrong intake of foods and a lack of physical exercise. Therefore, all parents need to keep a watch when it comes to their child’s eating habits and patterns.
Is it in your genes?
If there are cardiovascular diseases prevalent in your family, it means your child could be at risk as genetics plays a major role in obesity. Parents need to be extra cautious about the lifestyle of their children.
Fast food = Faster weight gain
Kids are spoilt for choice these days and are more prone to eating fast food such as frozen dinners, salty snacks, canned pasta, and aerated drinks. This process is a recipe for disaster and unhealthy weight gain. Poor diet planning is one major cause of this.
Lack of physical exercise
Children are busy indoors spending a lot of time on screen, in the form of mobiles, tablets, or gaming consoles when they could be playing certain sports and outdoor activities.
A healthy dose of changes
Relax, it’s not too late if your child is suffering from obesity. Just a few simple and easy steps can help them become a healthier version of themselves. Here is what you need to do:
Limit their junk food intake and include more dietary fiber like green vegetables, salads, etc. Offer a well-balanced meal, which is high in protein and less in carbs. While carbs are the building blocks of your cells, too much of them leads to excess fat and obesity. One way to do it is to reduce processed foods and replace them with fresh foods.
Change their habits
Increase the physical activity of your kids. Get them hiking, running, and playing in the outdoors. Let them not burn their eyes in front of screens but rather burn the extra calories. It is one of the biggest forces in combatting obesity.
Become role models
You are what you eat. Consciously or unconsciously children tend to mimic their parents from the very beginning. So, if you eat healthy so will your kids. Set a good example and live a healthy lifestyle and good eating habits. Rewarding them with things other than chocolates and candies for their merits is a good start towards this goal.
Regular monitoring and weight management is the key
The worst part is that many parents do not even realize that their child is obese! The center for disease control provides an index used to calculate a body mass index which is commonly referred to as “BMI”. During visits, make sure the doctor measures your child’s height and weight and calculates his or her BMI. A significant increase in your child’s BMI percentile rank over one year may be a possible sign that your child is at risk of becoming overweight.
This handy calculator can give them an idea about where they stand. This regimen should not be just once a year but twice for overweight children so that regular monitoring and weight management can treat their obesity.
No doubt it is one of the greatest health challenges facing children, adolescents, and their families. Pediatricians and other healthcare professionals play an important role in detecting excess weight early and treating obesity for healthier growth and development in children.
If you are looking for an appointment for any health-related consultation, get in touch with us today!