According to the Center for Disease Control, Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, with the prevalence among children aged 6 to 11 increasing from 6.5 percent to 19.6 percent. Among teenagers, the prevalence of obesity has increased from 5 to 18.1 percent. Globally, there are over 20 million children under age 5, who are overweight or obese.
I found this statistics very depressing and worry about what the state of health of our future generations will be. Weight control is becoming a family affair. Not only are adults struggling to make healthy food choices, children are also caught up in a battle against overweight and health problems that come with it.
Being a child is supposed to be fun, but the battle faced by an obese child takes all the fun away. Being fat gives children low self-esteem and makes them a target for bullying. The battle against obesity is not a battle to be lost by any child. According to CDC, Obese children are at higher risk than those at a healthy weight for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and bone and joint problems
If you are worried about your child’s weight, the first step is to establish a healthy lifestyle for the entire family. Consult a Nutritionist who will help you develop a healthy eating plan that is easy to follow. Secondly, model the good behavior that you want to see in the child. To get your child to eat vegetables, you need to eat them too. Be aware that young children model their behaviors on yours, always lead them by making healthy choices at all times.
Here are some simple tips to help you:
1. Schedule meal times and make regular meal times a priority. Keeping a schedule helps to discover individual hunger cues.
2. Make meal times an opportunity for the family to connect. Let your good eating habit be displayed for the children to emulate.
3. Never eat in front of the television. This makes it difficult to pay attention to the quality of food and to know when to stop eating.
4. Don’t let your child establish the dangerous habit of taking carbonated drinks. Remove such drinks from the house and prohibit buying them at school. Reduce your juice purchases because most varieties are loaded with sugar. Encourage your children eat whole fruits and drink a lot of milk and water. Introducing varies like freshly squeezed fruit juices and fruit blends will replace their craving for sugary juices.
5. Share out everyone’s food in a plate, and leave the extras in the kitchen, this helps to avoid mindless eating. Any one that needs an extra may think twice about whether they are really still hungry before taking a trip to the kitchen.
6. Avoid forcing the child to finish his or her food when they have eaten to their satisfaction. This will discourage paying attention to hunger cues.
7. Satisfy the sweet tooth with fruits, smoothies and low fat yogurt to deliver a nice dose of bone building calcium.
8. Make healthy snack choices. Place bowl of fresh and already washed fruit in a designated drawer in the refrigerator where they can be easily accessed.
9. Make regular physical activity part of the family schedule. This can be taking walks, playing hide and seek etc. Experiment with different activities until you find something your family loves and looks forward to doing together. Move television and video games out of children’s bedroom and set time limits when to use electronics daily and stick to it.
In summary, the first step to helping your obese child starts with you modeling the positive behaviour. GOOD LUCK!