The prevalence of childhood obesity is on the increase and doesn’t look set to change. The poor western diet of high-fat, high sugar fast foods and the popularization of sedentary activities, such as lounging in front of the TV or PC, fund the ever-growing problem of overweight youngsters.
Children have a great need for nutrients in relation to energy intake but care should be taken to ensure their diet suits their level of activity to avoid overeating.
As the General Practitioner at Blossoms Healthcare, Dr. Wendy Snell says “childhood obesity is a particularly troubling problem because the extra pounds the child is carrying can lead to them suffering serious health problems such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure”.
And, it’s often a complex and very sensitive matter to deal with. The issue of obesity is easier to treat in growing children than it is in adults and with the substantially high chance of obese children grow into obese adults, it’s, therefore, essential to tackle the problem from an early age.
How can you prevent your child from being overweight?
Parents should be aware of their responsibility when it comes to the diet and levels of activity in their children. In terms of exercise, it’s important to limit your child’s screen time and encourage physical activity in everyday life. After-school activities and days out to the park should be preferred over time spent on computers and TV.
The diet of your child should also be monitored closely, especially when outside the home and away from your watchful eye. Get your child involved in choosing healthy foods, whether by accompanying you with the grocery shop or getting involved with cooking and preparing meals. The more involved they are with food at home, the better choices they make for themselves.
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What are the risks of being overweight as a child?
The physiological effects of obesity are well documented. Increased risk of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and cancer are all associated with being overweight or obese in childhood and beyond. However, children are especially vulnerable to the psychological effects of obesity including anxiety, depression, a negative outlook, and low self-confidence.
Poor school attendance and performance are also not uncommon so it’s especially important to correct your child’s weight problem as early as possible. Not only are you improving their chances of a healthy life, but also a happy one.
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What do you do if you are concerned about your child’s weight?
For concerns about weight and weight development, contact your nurse or doctor. When measuring height and weight, professionals can consider whether your child is overweight or obese by calculating their body mass index, or BMI. This is calculated in the same manner as in adults but will also take age and gender into consideration.
If your child is overweight or diagnosed as obese, it’s important not to immediately resort to a calorie-restricted diet. Instead, you should focus on enabling your child to grow into the correct height to weight ratio whilst at the same time monitoring diet and physical exercise.
Talk with your doctor and health care providers to get an idea of the ideal weight you should be aiming for and approaches you can take. There are many health plans and diets available that can be tailored to suit the needs of your child as well as that of your family.