Why Have We Ignored Childhood Obesity for So Long?

Image via www.freshhealthyvending.com
How often have you looked at a plump kid and thought that children on the ‘healthier’ side looked cuter?
Image via http://www.freshhealthyvending.com

Cute as a little chubby child may look; recent statistics reveal that in reality, one out of every three kids falls in the ‘Overweight’ category. The reason?

More and more kids today prefer to spend their leisure time watching TV and playing video games, as opposed to going out to the park to play or learn to ride a bike.

And that is not where the problem ends. The fact that more and more parents are too busy to stress on a healthy lifestyle or ensure that their kids get a balanced homemade diet, children get their way by binging on fast food, bakery goods and unhealthy snacks as opposed to a meal rich in nutrients.

This poor eating style when coupled with a sedentary lifestyle has caused growing concerns about childhood obesity across the world.

So is it really sensible to ignore it any longer?

Why Should You Be Concerned?

Children who are obese are not only at a risk of developing eating disorders, they also have poor self esteem and confidence. They are constantly bullied at school for being ‘The Fat Kid’, and that leads to more stress eating as the child starts to find comfort in food.

Add to that the fact that an unhealthy weight so early on in life will only result in being overweight as adults as well, increasing their risk of health problems like bone and joint problems, high blood pressure, heart diseases, high cholesterol levels, liver and gall bladder disease, sleep apnea and even depression.

What makes matters worse is that today most pediatricians fail to bring up the risks of childhood obesity during monthly visits. As a concerned parent, it might be better that you bring it up yourself. Ask your doctor what your child’s healthy weight range should be, keeping in mind the age, sex and height.

In all earnestness, if your child is overweight, you have every reason to be concerned. And in this scenario, prevention always works better than cure. If you notice that your child is gaining weight steadily, early intervention is the best way to keep the physical maladies that accompany childhood obesity at bay.

Excess weight also leads to posture changes, and a lot more pressure exerted on joints. In the long run, unchecked childhood obesity will increase risk to medial knee pain, hip and lower back pain, a rounding of the shoulders as well as migraines.

What Can You Do To Change Things?

The rise in childhood obesity coincides with the fall of home cooking, with more and more urban Indian families being too busy to sit down to eat a meal together.

The good news is that it isn’t too late to change this unhealthy habit, and to become a good role model for your child by encouraging healthy eating habits for the whole family.

Here are a few things you can do to ensure that your child is healthy:

  • Make sure you start the day with a healthy breakfast. Also, try and eat dinner together, so that you can cook a homemade meal that is balanced and nutrient rich. To keep your child from fussing over the food, try to bring in variety by cooking favorites at home, rather than ordering takeout.
  • Oversee what your child eats. Even if the house help packs your child’s lunch or breakfast, insist that only healthy nutritious food is being offered. If your child currently prefers to eat at the school canteen, where he/she has unlimited access to oily fast food, limit this practice to just once a week and insist that he/she eats home cooked food for the remaining week.
  • Restrict consumption of fizzy drinks and packaged juices. Replace with fresh fruit juices and milkshakes. Make sure you buy only healthy snacks; if you don’t stock up on chips and cookies, your child’s access to them will be restricted only to family outings.
  • Insist on more physical activity. Be it playing a sport, taking up swimming classes or riding a bike in the evenings, make sure your child gets at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise every day.

Believe it or not, we live in a world where people judge you for your weight. And for a child who is not mature enough to understand the complex nature of our society, such bias can give way to psychological problems, which when coupled with the physical problems obesity brings about can be truly disastrous.

Are you really willing to take such a big risk?

Also read: Is fruit sabotaging your weight loss?

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