Childhood Obesity

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Childhood obesity is a condition where the actual weight of the child is particularly more than the ideal range of weight, height, and age. In the modern, tech-savvy world, childhood obesity is one of the biggest health problems faced by adolescents and young adults! India is home to the second-highest number of obese children in the world, with approximately 15 million overweight and obese children! Being an overweight child might not sound like a major disease, but it has some drastic mental and physical consequences. Obese and overweight children are more likely to develop health problems at a very early age, like diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, early heart disease, and bone problems. They tend to have low self-esteem and are likely to face bullying or social isolation by their peers, which can further lead to eating disorders like bulimia. But, being overweight is not the end of the world! It is an easily treatable and preventable problem. We can take action at every stage of childhood!

Now, what causes childhood obesity?

The causes of obesity are well known by us!

 • Lack of physical activity!  

Most children choose to stay indoors and play video games rather than going out and playing with their friends. They tend to have a sedentary or inactive lifestyle. The outdoor time is increasingly being replaced by screen time!      

High-calorie intake!

Children eat calorie-rich foods, and due to inactivity, these calories are not burnt! These excess calories are stored as fat in the body.

Easy availability of junk food!

If you ask your child about his favorite food, I’m sure the answer would be something among pizza, burger, fries, momos, chocolates, ice cream, pastry, or cold beverages! Everywhere you turn, you will find a fast food store; the supermarket aisles are filled with foods with high calories and carbohydrates! Unhealthy foods are readily available, almost everywhere.

Lack of sleep!

Yes, not getting sufficient sleep can also contribute to obesity. Not sleeping for enough hours can cause fatigue, thus hindering the child from physical activities. It can also cause an increase in appetite and craving for high-calorie snacks, which can contribute to weight gain.

Genetical issues!

Obesity is not always caused by excessive food intake or lack of physical activities. It can also be the result of your genes. Genetics can play a role in how your body converts food into energy and how your body burns calories during exercise.

Tips for guilty working parents

It is essential to understand that children only need ‘good enough’ and ‘happy’ parents and not parents who hover around them all the time. Ensure to come up with rituals or home routines that you will prioritize at any cost. Select your priorities with the school your child attends. Do ensure to make time to relax and play as a family. Ensure to schedule time during the weekends to keep up with the assignments/tests from school. Train your kids to solve their problems themselves instead of giving them advice about what to do.

How can you know if your child is obese or overweight?

Body mass index (BMI) is used to measure fat in the body. A BMI is calculated using a formula that takes into account the height and weight of your child. The doctor will check the BMI to ascertain the severity of the problem. Underweight: The BMI is less than 18.5 Healthy weight: The BMI is 18.5 to 24.9 Overweight: The BMI is 25 to 29.9 Obese: The BMI is 30 or higher

Tips for tackling childhood obesity!

Obesity can be treated with a few lifestyle changes!

1. Adopt healthy family eating!

Make your child eat his food with you. Make healthy and delicious dishes so that he enjoys it while getting adequate protein. Introduce seasonal fruits and vegetables by the age of 2-3. Introduce traditional meal combinations to them! The easiest way to get your child to do something is to do it with them!

2. Limit calorie intake!

Discourage your child from eating a poor diet of foods high in calories. Limit the consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages. Avoid ordering food from outside. Encourage your child to eat natural and whole foods like fruits and leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. Discourage junk snacking. Make your child eat a balanced diet every day. Insinuating healthy food eating habits will pave the way for healthy childhood!

3.Encourage physical activity!

Physical activity is necessary to burn those calories and eat enough to grow! Allow your child to play any sport of his choice for at least an hour every day! Organize all family fun and physical activities; it will motivate the child to play when everyone else is playing! Regular family physical activities can keep your child healthy, active, and happy!

4. Limit screen time!

You have to be really strict when it comes to phones, tablets, TV, computers, or laptops. Screen time should be limited to a maximum of 2 hours per day. Avoid watching TV while eating food because those food commercials can be very tempting!

5. Communicate!

Have a healthy conversation with your child about your concerns regarding their weight and ask them to adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits. Calmly make them understand the long-term impacts of their unhealthy eating patterns. Consult a doctor or a nutritionist and get a customized diet plan for your child according to their age and health condition. Support them and let them know that you are there for them, no matter what!

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Also read:
Small Appetites and other ‘Weight’ Issues: How to increase your Child’s appetite
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