Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition affecting children and adolescents. It is particularly a matter of concern because childhood obesity can lead to social isolation, depression, and lower self-esteem. All these effects can last well into adulthood. They are at increased risk for having other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as hypertension, asthma, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, bone, and joint problems.
What Causes Childhood Obesity?
Obesity is complex. Several factors can cause kids to gain weight quickly, including:
What Are the Different Ways to Prevent Childhood Obesity?
To help prevent excess weight gain in children, the following can be helpful:
Limit the Consumption of Trans-Fat:
Foods high in bad fats are pleasant to taste but hazardous to health. A few examples of high fatty foods include pasta, burgers, fries, and pizzas. These foods are high in trans-fat, which may be hazardous for the health of your child's heart leading to high cholesterol levels raising the very high-density lipoproteins, which are bad fats, and decreasing the high-density lipoproteins, which are good fats. To reverse this, encourage the kids to consume foods that contain good fats like almonds, walnuts, and flaxseeds which are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids which protect the heart.
Consume Lots of Water:
Water helps lose weight by flushing harmful toxins out of the body and reduces water retention in the body. Encourage your kid to consume lots of water to cleanse the system of toxins. If your kid does not like consuming water, make it more flavourful by adding slices of cucumber, mint, and lemon in it in the form of detox water.
Include Fruits and Vegetables:
Fruits and vegetables are rich in fiber. Consuming a sufficient amount of fiber, up to 25 grams per day, enhances the weight loss process in overweight children. Soluble fibers present in apples and oats bind to the cholesterol present in the heart and remove it through digestion and hence, protecting the child from various cardiovascular diseases at a very early age.
Reduce Sedentary Time:
Participating in sports is the most effective way to increase the child's basal metabolic rate (BMR) and thereby helping them to lose weight and stay fit. It also helps to enhance the kid’s self-esteem by releasing feel-good hormones called endorphins.
In addition, regular physical activity has many health benefits, including strengthening bones, decreasing blood pressure, reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and helping with weight management.
Indulge in Mindful Eating Practices:
Teach the kids to focus on one activity at a time. For example, while eating food, switch off the television so that the kid's mind does not get diverted and the kid does not overeat.
Make Healthier Alternatives:
Prepare healthy snacks for children. For example, include air-popped popcorn without butter, fruits with low-fat yogurt, carrots with hummus, flaxseed and date bars, or whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk.
Ensure Adequate Sleep:
Sleep is considered essential, along with diet and physical activity, as part of a healthy lifestyle. Research suggests that inadequate sleep can increase the risk of obesity. Sleep deprivation can cause certain hormonal imbalances that can increase appetite resulting in obesity. Children usually need more sleep than adults, and the amount of sleep typically varies by age. Parents should ensure that their child must get enough sleep to protect against childhood obesity.
Watch Portion Size:
Overeating can lead to obesity, so it is vital to make sure that children eat proper portions. Portion size refers to the amount of food an individual chooses to eat. Parents can take control of their children's portion sizes and help them learn to do the same.
They can do it by serving food on smaller plates so meals look larger when cooking large batches or storing leftovers, separating them into smaller portions before putting them in the fridge or freezer, and not letting kids eat out of bags or containers.
Do Not Focus On Weight Loss:
It is not recommended to try traditional weight-loss strategies for children. Instead, focus on helping the children to develop healthy eating behaviors. A calorie-restricted diet may prevent children from getting the essential vitamins, minerals, and energy they need for proper growth. Always consult with a pediatrician or healthcare provider before putting a child on a diet.
Teach Healthy Habits:
Prepare nutritious dishes so that children develop healthy eating habits that may last a lifetime. Parents should involve kids in the home meal preparation and encourage them to participate so that they become more aware of their food choices.
Set a Good Example:
Make healthy eating habits and regular physical activity a family affair so that everyone can benefit and no one would feel singled out.
Choose Nonfood Rewards:
Do not use food items, such as candies or chocolates, as a reward.
Ensure that the child sees the doctor for checkups at least once a year. During the visit, the doctor may measure the child's body mass index (BMI). A significant increase in the child's BMI percentile rank over one year may indicate that the child is at risk of becoming overweight.
Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that is particularly troubling because it often directs children on the path to health problems, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. In addition, it can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression. Treating and preventing childhood obesity is essential to protect children's health now and in the future. Several methods like practicing healthy eating habits, exercising regularly, watching portion sizes, reducing sedentary time, and getting adequate sleep are the best ways to prevent obesity.
Frequently Asked Questions