Helping Kids avoid Obesity

Helping Kids avoid Obesity

Helping Kids avoid Obesity

India is following a trend of other developing countries that are steadily becoming more obese. Child obesity levels are also on the raise in India and all over the world. Children today eat more and exercise less than their prior generations and the result is that children are getting heavier and unhealthier. Ironically, obesity is among the easiest medical conditions to recognize but most difficult to treat. Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise.

Heredity is important, of course: certain people gravitate toward being thin or overweight no matter what they eat. But it’s a mistake to attribute weight and body shape entirely to genes. Although the genetic influences are significant, it is important to recognize that poor eating habits and overeating, lack of exercise, and family eating patterns and pressures also contribute to the inability to maintain a healthy weight.

The Effects of Obesity

Overweight children, as compared to children with a healthy weight, are more likely to develop many health problems such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure, which are associated with heart disease in adults. Type 2 diabetes, previously considered an adult disease, has increased dramatically in overweight children and adolescents. Obese kids also may be prone to low self-esteem that stems from being teased, bullied, or rejected by peers.

Lets talk about some charateristics of our modern lifestyle that contributes most to the problem of childhood obesity:

  • Advances in technology designed to make life easier and more entertaining.
  • Contemporary leisure activities such as playing computer games and watching TV.
  • Exposure to increasing amounts of marketing for snack and fast foods.
  • High density living with fewer parks and play areas for kids.
  • Poor lifestyle habits being passed on from one generation to the next.
  • Unprecedented access to junk and fast food that is high in calories and fat.

Preventing Childhood Obesity - Tips for Parents

  • Obese children need a thorough medical evaluation by a pediatrician to consider the possibility of a physical cause. In the absence of a physical disorder, the only way to lose weight is to reduce the number of calories being eaten and to increase the child's or adolescent's level of physical activity.

  • Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV. Eating in front of the TV may make it difficult to pay attention to feelings of fullness and may lead to overeating.

  • Emphasize healthy eating, keep fatty and sugary snacks to a minimum and keep fruits, vegetables and low-fat snacks available.

  • Increase physical activity, perhaps by taking a few brisk walks with your child each week.

  • Let your child know he or she is loved and appreciated whatever his or her weight. An overweight child probably knows better than anyone else that he or she has a weight problem. Overweight children need support, acceptance, and encouragement from their parents.

  • Be a good role model for your child. If your child sees you enjoying healthy foods and physical activity, he or she is more likely to do the same now and rest of his or her life.

  • Phase out soft drinks and other flavored, sweetened beverages. Keep fresh fruits and vegetables available as snacks (nuts can be great snacks, too, as long as they’re consumed in small portions). Set some clear limits on recreational screen time - TV, videos, electronic games and Internet and encourage all kinds of physical activity. You’ll be glad you did.
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Reviewed By:

Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)

Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad