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19 Sep, 2021
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childhood obesity

Childhood Obesity – H&S Education & Parenting

Childhood Obesity- What Every Parent Needs To Know!

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition in which a child is noted to be significantly overweight for his/her age & height. This complex disease is no longer a disease of the developed world but is now considered one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century making this a global concern. According to WHO, 39 million children under the age of 5 were noted to be overweight or obese in 2020.
It’s important as a parent to understand that this so-called complex disease doesn’t only come with a stigma but also has a significant impact on the child’s health. Childhood obesity is linked to a number of factors such as inheriting obesity genes but the fundamental cause of obesity is the imbalance between the calories consumed and the calories expended. The good news is that ‘childhood obesity’ is preventable! As a parent, to avoid the negative impact of obesity on your child’s physical as well as psychosocial health, it’s imperative to watch their eating habits along with their weight.

childhood obesity
What Are The Causes Of Childhood Obesity?

Apart from genetic and hormonal factors, as stated earlier, the number one cause of obesity is the imbalance between the calories consumed and the calories expended, i.e. too little activity and too many calories from food and drinks.

The Risk Factors:

1. Unhealthy Diet-  consuming high-calorie foods high in sugars and fats, such as fast foods, sweets, sugary carbonated drinks, can all cause your child to gain weight.

2. Sedentary Lifestyle With No Activities- Just as adults, children who don’t exercise much are at risk of gaining weight. As parents, you should cut down on screen time and focus more on getting your child outdoor playing sports or indulging in dancing classes etc to help burn calories.

3. Genetics- If you or your family has a history of obesity then this could be the reason your child is prone to becoming obese. However, this means high-calorie foods should be avoided and physical activity should be encouraged.

4. Stress- This can increase a child’s risk of becoming obese, as some children have the tendency to overeat in order to be able to cope with problems or deal with emotions, such as stress.

5. Socioeconomic Factors- For convenience, processed foods with preservatives such as frozen meals, baked packet goodies are bought and consumed. Another factor could possibly lack of time to include exercise, and a lot more time spent sitting and working from a desk.

6. Medications- Some medications such as prednisone (steroids), anti-depression medications can increase the risk of developing obesity.

What Are The Consequences Of Childhood Obesity?

Increased BMI or body mass index can lead to a number of non-communicable diseases.

1. Hypertension & Hypercholestrolemia- both of which contribute to cardiovascular diseases & stroke
2. High Risk Of Developing Impaired Glucose Tolerance, Insulin Resistance & Type 2 Diabetes
3. Respiratory Conditions- such as asthma & sleep apnoea
4. Musculoskeletal Issues- such as osteoarthritis
5. Fatty Liver Disease, Gallstones, GERD (heartburn)
6. Cancer – such as cancer of the colon. kidney, liver, gall bladder to name a few

Childhood obesity can also lead to obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. Apart from these risks, obese children can end up experiencing psychological problems such as anxiety and depression and can face social problems of bulling and stigma leading to low self-esteem.

What Can You Do As Parents To Help Your Child?

Remember: PREVENTION IS KEY!

There are many that contribute childhood obesity, but the common goal is to make use of a combined diet and physical activity intervention to help prevent obesity.
Some Healthy Practices For Parents To Help Prevent Childhood Obesity:

1. Be A Role Model- If you practice healthy eating with regular physical activity then your child too will be able to practice this.
2. Encourage Healthy Snacks & Food- Opt for healthy options such as air-popped popcorn without butter, fruits, low-fat yogurt,  whole-grain cereals, low fat milk, veggies etc.
3. Opt For A Variety- Your child may not like something, hence it is important to not limit your healthy food choices. Also just because your child doesn’t like for example, eating avocado on its own, doesn’t mean he/won’t like gaucamole.
4. Avoid Candies As Rewards- Promoting good behaviour in a child may require rewarding your child, but this doesn’t have to involve candies and crisps. Opt for non-food rewards or healthy snacks instead!
5. Encourage Good Sleeping Habits- There have been links to too little sleep leading to a increased risk of obesity, it’s therefore important to encourage good sleeping habits.

When you take your child for annual check-ups always be keen on getting your child’s BMI so that you can track your child’s healthy progress and prevent him/her from becoming obese.

On the other hand, f you’re worried concernec that your child is putting on too much weight, you don’t need to wait for an annual visit. Talk your child’s paediatrician to determine if your child is indeed at a risk of obesity. The doctor will then develop a meal & lifestyle plan to help bring your child’s weight in control.

 

Do you have any parental challenges? Let us know If you have any concerns or questions about parenting, leave your comments below & our expert will get back to you!
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