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Childhood Obesity Prevention is better than cure.
Childhood Obesity Prevention is better than cure. Catch then young!
Childhood obesity is a growing problem and can lead to several medical issues that may continue throughout adult life. Obesity/overweight is at present the fifth leading risk factor for mortality globally. Obesity starts very early in life and children comprise a major part of this group. Childhood obesity is becoming an enormous problem in urban India too.
Environmental factors, lifestyle preferences, and cultural environment play vital roles in the increasing prevalence of obesity worldwide. Overweight children face several problems, social as well as medical. They become targets of other kids teasing and with the obsession of being slim especially with teens their self-esteem takes a beating. It can also result in poor academic performance.
There are several reasons which collectively contribute in children becoming obese. Most important reasons are:
- Reduced physical activity
- Increased availability of food especially energy-dense foods
Overweight children are extremely conscious of the fact that they need to lose weight. They need to be made aware of the fact that it is more important to eat right which will gradually lead to ideal weight rather than dieting just to lose weight. And they need to be encouraged to be more physically active.
Overweight children also are at risk of developing medical conditions such as:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart problems
Obesity in childhood can be a risk factor for many chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, osteoporosis, and some carcinomas.
Obese children and obese adolescents maintain their obese status into adulthood. It is also observed that obese children who have achieved healthy weight before becoming adults still are prone to becoming obese during adulthood compared to children who were never obese. As adults, we are all aware of how difficult a task it is to achieve and maintain a healthy weight!
What can we do to ensure we prevent childhood obesity?
- Make sure that children develop healthy eating habits during childhood
- Set an example, follow a healthy lifestyle as children learn what they see
|Some steps that can help|
Most important is to increase physical activity
- Expose kids to healthy choice of foods
- Involve kids in shopping for food
- Make cooking a fun activity and involve kids
- Control portion size
- No television during meals
- Ensure that they get adequate physical activity
What can schools do?
- Give healthy food at lunchtime
- Cafeteria/canteen should be stocked with healthy snacks
- Avoid junk food/calorie dense food
- Healthy eating habits to be re-enforced in school
- Conduct nutrition and health workshops regularly
- Make sure that kids get some physical activity
Be a role model for your child
It is important to teach children what is healthy and increase their awareness about nutritious food. Children these days are very smart, conscious and exposed to a lot of information. All they need is proper supervision and parents who make a conscious effort to provide a balanced diet.
Children should be exposed to junk food as less as possible though in these days of television and retail explosion it seems almost impossible. But do not underestimate their ability to learn from you!
Take up a sport
At the same time, enough attention needs to be paid to physical activity. Parents and school should encourage children to be active and see that enough physical activity is incorporated into their daily routine. This helps them to develop healthy habits which stay with them well into adulthood. What children learn during their formative years is what stays with them!
Multifaceted strategies involving the family, school, community are required to gradually reverse this trend of increasing childhood obesity. The focus has to be on healthy eating habits, physical activity, and nutrition education. Almost all experts agree that prevention could be the key strategy for controlling the current epidemic of obesity.