We grew up hearing the saying “a chubby baby is a healthy baby”, but is this statement true?
Childhood obesity is becoming a serious problem and is placing great risk for children and adolescents to develop diseases such as Diabetes and Hypertension at such a young age. Studies show that in the US, millions of children and teens are overweight or obese and are at great risk to carrying that weight into adulthood.
Childhood obesity predisposes to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, liver and kidney disease, heart diseases, even reproductive dysfunction and can be caused by multiple factors including diet, lack of exercise, medications, genetics, to name a few.
With the numbers rising at a shockingly fast rate we can make two major adjustments in our life to help prevent childhood obesity. Diet and Exercise.
With the elimination of unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks in schools, we must ask ourselves what is happening in our homes?
Unhealthy snacks, fast foods and soft drinks are high in fat, refined sugars and artificial additives. Eating a diet filled with ‘junk foods’ can increase weight as well as increase chances of developing diabetes and heart disease etc.
Replace snacks with a more healthier alternative such as a daily fruit or vegetables, eg carrot sticks and instead of soda, use freshly squeezed/blended homemade juices or smoothies.
Ensure that the children eat a good breakfast. It is proven that obese and over weight children are more likely to skip breakfast as compared to other leaner children.
Use true meat rather than processed meat. Instead of buying frozen tenders, make your own chicken tenders using real chicken breast.
Portion sizes matter a lot with children and it is important that parents follow the recommendations to ensure the intake of food is adequate for the age of the child. For children who are already overweight or obese, you may need to cut portion sizes in half and replace starches with fruits and vegetables.
Children run and play often, but in these times of advancing technology, there are more and more children who prefer to sit at home and watch tv for a long time or play video games on the computer or tablet. These activities should be limited.
Moreover, It is recommended that children should have at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day with exercises such as running, walking, skipping etc. A great way to lose those extra pounds! Enrolled your child into activities such as swimming, dancing, karate so that at least 2-3 times a week there is moderate/vigorous physical activity. Make these activities fun. Do it as a family. That way the child is encouraged more and more to participate.
Families have a critical role to play in preventing childhood obesity and promoting a healthy lifestyle in children. Stay on top of your doctors visits as a family. It helps not only to monitor their weight but also to investigate the cause of weight gain as well as any complication that may arise.
Let‘s prevent childhood obesity one child at a time.