Recent studies claim that obesity is on the rise not just in adults but in children and young adolescents as well. Obesity is the devil that can make way for a number of health issues including (but not limited to) Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, Hypothyroidism, Cardiovascular Risks, and cholesterol problems. It may also lead to sleep disorders, impaired cognitive abilities, asthma, and orthopedic ailments. When it comes to children, if your child’s BMI is greater than the 95% norm according to his age and gender, then that falls under the category of childhood obesity, and it is indeed a serious cause for concern. So, it is important to start with understanding what has brought us to this stage.
The blame game
There can be many factors which contribute to obesity in children, but the following factors are some of the most common:
- Genetics: Obesity can be hereditary, thereby affecting the child at a very early age.
- Unhealthy lifestyle: Snacking in front of the television for hours on end, haywire sleep cycles, bingeing on junk food – these are some of the habits that are bound to set the child up for failure.
- Eating disorders: Anorexia nervosa, emotional eating etc.
How to win the battle?
- Lead by example: If you want to inculcate healthy habits in your child, then first you must practice those habits yourself. Eating food in the right manner helps in the proper growth and development of your child. Help them understand the side effects of eating unhealthy food goes a long way in preventing eating disorders in children. Therefore, start with learning (self) and educating your kids.
- Get moving: Involve your child in physical activity like swimming or a competitive sport. This will shift the child’s interest from simply hogging on junk to more active and creative channelization of interest and energy.
- Hydration: Encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day; this will teach him/her how to differentiate between the sensation of hunger and thirst.
- Small modifications: Restricting sugar completely might make the child sneak it in behind your back, so try to incorporate mindful eating habits instead. For instance, use honey instead of sugar and almond flour instead of wheat flour to bake a healthier variation of your child’s favorite cake.
- Monitor screen time: Limit the time scheduled for watching television and tablets, playing video games, and screen time in general to no more than two hours a day.
Obesity is a lifestyle disorder that can be reversed. Making such small mindful changes can go a long way in recovering your child’s health, eventually leading to a recipe for success.
Author Credits – Dr. Sushma Pachouri