Obesity is a medical ailment in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health. In the USA alone, there are 20-30% obese children! Obesity in Children is a serious health concern because if not prevented or cured, it often leads to Diabetes, High Blood pressure, High Cholesterol and other Diseases.
Childhood is that time of life, where you may let your children eat anything and everything interesting that comes their way. It is also the time where children develop a taste for junk food and start sidelining healthy food in favor of processed junk. If taken lightly, causes obesity in children.
BMI or Body Mass Index is often used to diagnose whether a child suffers from obesity or not. A high BMI of 95 Percentile indicates obesity (Defined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
This BMI Calculator helps You to find out whether your child’s BMI falls into an underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese range.
If Parents are overweight and leading an unhealthy lifestyle then the child is more likely to be obese! Obesity in Children is linked to Bad Parenting. It is often encouraged to young parents, to steer and monitor their child’s lifestyle, eating habits and also act as role models to them, as children at tender ages learn from their parents and the environment around them.
Often, obese children are subjected to public ridicule by friends of the same age group. It not only lowers their confidence, it also makes them feel unwanted and psychologically affect the child, which can continue even when the child grows up.
If your child is obese and having trouble blending in with the other active children around him, here are some things you should do to solve that:
1. Council Him/her
Your child is your responsibility and no one would exclusively take out time to counsel them for you. Sit down with them, and talk to them, extracting information about, whether he has friends or not, or whether he is bullied or not. Be their support system and guide throughout. Remember Obesity in Children can also be psychological.
2. Be good role models
Young children generally pick up habits from their parents. You might find your little daughter trying to wear your dress or your son pretending to shave cute, but remember, if they are picking up your good habits, they will surely pick up the bad ones.
Be great role models to your children. Have a happy healthy life which your children can take encouragement from. Do not smoke or drink in front of your children. Eat healthily and encourage them to do the same. Lead a healthy lifestyle which you would feel proud of. Leading a Healthy lifestyle in Family can help you prevent obesity in Children.
3. Get your child into sports
An active lifestyle can easily help prevent obesity in children. Sports are a great way to get your child into leading an active life. Do not force your choice of sport on them. Let them experiment, and try out different sports. Let them choose the sport they like, and wish to play on a long term basis. This way, your child would not feel that he/she is being forced to play a sport. Sports not only will transform your child physically, but the training will also make him/ disciplined and mentally strong.
4. Get them involved in extra-curricular activities
One of the major causes that lead to obesity in children is that most of these children spend their 90% time at home or in front of TV. Get your child enrolled in some skill classes. Dance, music and Art are great to start with. The more time they spend doing something actively, the lesser will they sit around the house on a couch, with a packet of potato crisps in their hands.
The one to two hours of extra-curricular activity will keep their mind off food or simply lazing around the house. They will learn a new skill which will remain an integral part of them for the rest of their life. They will also make new friends in the process.
5. Change the diet
According to a survey, in 90% cases, obesity in children is directly linked to Fast Food! (Now we are not blaming any particular Fast Food chain but You know…).
More often than not, it is the parent who is responsible for the faulty diet of the child. They might take their child to fast food joints, or treat them to ice-creams and chocolates. These only “Taste” good. Remember, you’re adding on unnecessary calories to your child’s already sedentary lifestyle. Encourage your child to eat fresh fruits instead of chocolates.
Give them fresh fruit juice instead of sodas. Bake chips for them instead of frying them. You only have to change the food; you don’t have to remove the fun out of eating.
6. Give smart instructions
Obesity in children can easily be prevented if you, as a parent becomes more proactive! It is the small changes that make the biggest difference. Instead of buying them a toy car or a new dress for a birthday present, buy them a bicycle. Encourage them to ride the bicycle for short distances. Give them instructions which will make them use the bicycle. For example, Instead of saying, “Hey Carl! Can you get me some flour from the market?” say “Hey Carl! Can you get me some flour from the market on your bicycle?”
The task remains the same. There is just added information of taking the bicycle along which the child would take into consideration.
7. Monitor what your child eats
A good and healthy physique is 75% diet. Immediately putting a full stop on your child eating junk food will upset him/her. Promise them an ice-cream every Sunday and deliver on that promise. Your child will realize that he/she still gets to eat an ice-cream or a burger at least once a week. Keep a close eye on them whenever they go to the kitchen. You, as a parent don’t have to unnecessarily stalk them at all times, but just a casual glance at them and what they are trying to eat can help prevent obesity in children.
8. Restock your cabinets
Unhealthy Snacking is one of the major causes of Obesity in Children. Cut down on High Calorie and unhealthy snacks. Remove all refined flour biscuits, chocolate filled cookies and fried chips with seasoning. Restock with Oatmeal cookies, Ragi biscuits, and wheat rusks. Take out the milk chocolate from your freezer and replace it with 75% cocoa dark chocolate. Purchase essential nuts like almonds, walnuts, raisins, and pistachios. Instead of processed fruit juice, make fresh juice at your home every day.
Involve your child in the restocking process. Show him/her the things that are being replaced in the kitchen. This way, the child will know the difference between the healthy and unhealthy kitchen supplies. So every time they run to the kitchen to grab a bite, be assured that nothing unhealthy is going into their little tummy.
9. Portion Control
Teach your child the art of portion control. Teach them about the secret mantra of “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a queen and dinner like a pauper.” To put that in the simplest terms, Keep the breakfast healthy and filling as it is the most important meal of the day, followed by a moderately light lunch followed by an extremely light dinner. Tell them to eat only the amount they can eat.
Overeating causes obesity in children. Discourage overeating. Every time they come to you, with puppy eyes, asking for snacks, give them a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit. They will slowly inculcate the habit of eating healthy food for snacks. Start keeping fruits and nuts in their Tiffin boxes too. Every time they get hunger pangs, they could snack on the nuts and fruits their mommy packed for them.
10. Spend “active time” with them
As parents to young children, it is very important to spend quality time with them. Participate in family activities like community aerobics, yoga, Adventure activities. Do not make them feel alone during the transformation journey. Stick with them the whole time. This will strengthen the bond between you and your child. There is honestly nothing better than a family that sticks together through thick and thin.
Meditation can easily help prevent obesity in Children. Everyone talks about incorporating physical fitness in daily regimes, but most people forget about the importance of mental health. Meditate for at least 15 minutes with your child. Meditation is a great way to learn self-control and discipline. It will reduce the temptation of eating constantly and restlessness. You will be surprised to see the amazing results that 15 minutes of meditation can do for you and your child.
12. Rewards and punishment system
According to a recent survey, Gadgets are becoming one of the major cause of obesity in children, especially in countries like USA, UK, China, India etc. Young children nowadays are more informed about technology than the older lot. They waste a great amount of crucial time on smartphones, computers or video games. Remind them that they are privileges and not birthrights. Reward them with smartphone time if you see positive changes in their weight. Do the same for video games and other gadgets.
Deduct gadget time if they break any diet rule or gain weight. This might seem a little harsh considering you are dealing with a young child; it, however, makes a lot of difference when the child realizes that they have to earn their privileges. Not only will they try to earn their privileges by doing the right thing, they will also become more sensible and compassionate human beings in the future.
Obesity is tough to fight. It is very difficult to undo, and it takes years of perseverance and dedication to become fit and healthy again. Your child is vulnerable to the negativity that is in the world against obese people. It may scar him/her permanently, even sending them into a depressed state at a young age which is harder to combat. A young child does not realize the difference between right and wrong and it is the responsibility of parents to be the guiding figure in their lives. It’s You who can help prevent obesity in children.
Before starting with any active lifestyle change, consult a pediatrician and a nutritionist for guidance. Get all the necessary tests required before making any changes and get tips on meals that are a Yes or No for your child.
It is not easy, but it is definitely not impossible!