It is every mother’s dream to see her child grow up healthy and strong. From the day a child is born, a mother looks forward to feeding them, bonding, good health, and eventually enjoying the baby’s milestones as expected. Unfortunately, modern-day living is contributing to lifestyle diseases that are not sparing the young children either. It is not uncommon to hear of a young child under medication for diabetes, which was previously thought to be a disease for grown-ups. What is more shocking is that obesity has become equally prevalent among children, and this should not be the case.
Combating childhood obesity should be the combined efforts of the parents, the child in question, and the society. Parents and caregivers play a prominent role in making their children gain excessive weight, whether they do it consciously or otherwise. Right from what they feed their children, to supporting them to remain indoors all day long playing computer games, it is no surprise that many children are too heavy for their age.
Nevertheless, all hope is not lost. There are practical measures that can be taken to reverse the situation, and also prevent cases of obesity in children. It all begins from striving to achieve an energy balance that the child can maintain throughout their life-span. Below are the specific steps that you can take to curb childhood obesity.
Put more fruits and vegetables on your child’s plate, as well as whole grains, nuts, and legumes. A good parent should lead by example. Let your child see you consume more of vegetables and fruits and less of starchy and junk foods, and they will be motivated to do the same. Children learn through imitation and observation, more than being told what to do.
Let the child join you in doing physical exercises. Telling a child to get off the seat and become physically active might not work, but inviting them to join you for a workout might work wonders. However, the child should not be pushed to do so much at once. A consistent workout regime, at least 30 minutes long, will eventually become a habit that the child might carry into their future, helping them deal with weight issues in both the short and long-term.
Simple exercises like brisk walking, swimming, soccer, playing tag, skipping, and dancing are activities that can keep your child interested in working out and shedding the extra kilos. More importantly, help your child understand the benefits of being physically active.
No More Sweets
Avoid rewarding your child for good behavior with sugary stuff. The overall goal should be to reduce sugar intake. Instead of giving sweets, candy, chocolate, or other high-fat snacks when the child is well behaved, give them their favorite fruit instead. Apples, grapes, blueberries, or bananas can do the trick.
Discourage prolonged sedentary habits like watching too much TV. Quiet time for doing homework and reading is excellent, but the time spent glued to the TV screen should be limited to at most two hours daily. Instead of video games and too many movies, encourage the whole family to find fun activities that they can all do together, most of which should involve a lot of physical activity.
More Water Please
Let your child take more water and less soft drinks and sugary beverages. Water plays a very crucial role in helping shed off extra weight. It suppresses hunger pangs and keeps the temptation to snack on unhealthy food items away. Besides, water helps in increasing the metabolism rate, hence enhancing the rate at which fats are broken down and eliminated from the body.
The Bottom Line
Combating childhood obesity calls for the input of the larger society because it takes the entire community to raise a child. Let those around you know that you are trying to raise your child the healthy way, and ask for their support while at it.
The government should also be involved in making policies that ban the manufacture of food items that contain unhealthy calories. It should also control or restrict the access to junk, sugary, and high-calorie foods by children under a certain age (just like they did with alcohol). Making healthier diet options and shaping healthy environments for children should be the priority of any government that wishes to raise obesity-free generations.
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