Kids are bundles of laughter and joy. And even on your worst of days, one cute smile or a look at those chubby and cute cheeks melt all that stress away. But, as you do your best to protect your kids, are you protecting them from childhood obesity. Is the baby fat sticking around longer than you anticipated and are you worried that the bullying they face is a result of something you did wrong?
Well, the truth is that you will never stop worrying when you have children, but in some cases, you have to be more worrisome. Other than the fear of your child skidding and breaking a few bones, you need to worry about what your child eats and whether or not they are at risk of being obese.
Studies show that obesity in kids aged 6-11 has been increasing steadily since 1980 and that childhood obesity appears to have quadrupled in the past 30 or so years with reports of one-third of children and teens being obese or overweight by 2012. Going by these numbers by the Center for Disease Control, you need to worry about the weight of your child. He or she might look healthy but, are you sure that the extra weight is not doing more harm than good?
While most kids shed away the extra weight by the time they are teens, most of the time childhood obesity comes with health issues which if not controlled, lead to life-long health issues.
Some of the dangers of childhood obesity include low self-esteem, depression, an increased risk of developing type 2 or adult-onset diabetes, as well as an increased risk of sleep disorders and trouble with joints and bones. Not to mention the increased risk of high blood pressure.
The unfortunate bit is that other children often tease obese kids about their weight, and in the long run, these kids suffer physical and psychological issues which could manifest through adulthood.
By now you are probably reading through this page looking for remedies to the problem. But first:
What causes childhood obesity?
Blame it on the genes: while there is no consensus on the causes of the condition, it’s apparent that kids with overweight or obese parents are at a higher risk of becoming obese themselves.
Diet: What do you feed your kids at home? How often do you eat out or order in? Like adult obesity, childhood obesity results from what one eats and what you don’t eat. Even though you have crazy schedules at work, you need to find ways of packing in healthy nutrients for your child. Though tasty, fast foods have a high-calorie content but low nutritional value. Therefore, you need to watch what your kids eat and drink. Cut out the high-calorie juices and pack in balanced diets. It’s much harder for kids (and adults) to crave junk food when the stomach is well-packed with nutritious and filling foods. But before you get there, you will have to spend a lot of time training your kids only to eat healthy foods and snacks.
Physical inactivity: you might want to cut down on TV or PlayStation time by creating interesting outdoor activities that will force your kids to run around and sweat. You might want to ensure that the school your child goes to or the summer school they are attending includes physical activity in the timetable. You might want to talk to the math tutors in Ottawa about the activities they offer for the kids to relax and de-stress.
How to Combat Child Obesity
- Involve the whole family
The only way around this issue starts with inculcating healthy eating habits at home. You have to lead by example by eating more of the healthy, homecooked foods and encouraging your kids to join in. While cooking, involve your kids and let them know the benefits of the different foods you are preparing,
You also have to stop being a couch potato – go riding with the kids or go on hikes with them. You should, however, make small and easy changes over time.
- Eating healthier foods
Eat the rainbow and encourage your kids to join in. You also need to make healthy breakfasts a priority and watch out for hidden sugars. Also, set a limit on the time spent eating out and schedule regular meal times.
Healthy food choices mean more healthy fats rather the fat-free. Healthy fats are important for brain development so, use more healthy plant-based fats and fatty fish, and avoid trans fats. Be careful about saturated fats.
- Smart snacking
This is as simple as introducing more fruits, watching out for hidden sugars, reducing the size of snacks, reducing intake of juices and other sugary stuff, and also opting for options with reduced sugars. You should also try natural herbs and spices.
Other strategies include:
- Reducing screen time by setting simple rules like 2-hour screen time a day, no eating in front of the TV, and pick different forms of rewards.
- Get your kids moving by doing chores together, playing an active indoor game, trying out activity-based videos, or enroll your kids in an after-school activity.
- Watch food portions by using smaller dishes, downsizing orders, reducing calorie intake, reading labels, or cutting down in the high-calorie treats like pizza and lasagna. You might also want to start serving food on plates rather than serving bowls as this reduces the temptation of going for second or third servings.