Your child must lose…to win!

Do you know that more than 17% American children and adolescents suffer from childhood obesity? In fact, the problem of obesity or abnormally high weight is continuously rising among children. This has resulted in a growing concern for both health care providers and the parents. What is even more alarming is that not many people are fully aware of the consequences of this problem. The complications which may arise due to uncontrolled obesity include diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, arthritis, and reduced mobility and life expectancy.

For the same reason, it is vital for the parents to address the issue as early as possible as, after all, prevention is better than cure. Read on to discover some simple, easy and cost-effective measures to deal with the condition.

So, what makes your kid fat?

Your child’s body gets the energy it needs from the food he / she eats (Input). This energy is used to perform physical activity (Output). The unused energy is stored in the body is stored as fat. Therefore if, for some reason, this input is more than the output, it will cause your kid to become fat or obese.

What are the risk factors?

Some common factors that may cause your child to become overweight or obese include:

Food preferences: Foods rich in fat and sugar
Lack of physical activity: Sedentary lifestyle

Family history: If parents are obese, children have more chances of being over weight

What you can do?

Remember, being closer than anyone, parents have the main influence on the diet and life style pattern of their children. Therefore, simple measures and easy tactics in the home can have a significant impact on reducing your child’s overweight or obesity. It is always better to address the problem as early as possible as most overweight children become overweight adults as well.

Following recommended measures are of utmost importance in managing the overweight or obesity of your child.

Enhancement in physical activity

TV viewing should be limited to no more than 2 hours per day, discourage TV in kid’s room.

Plan and execute activities that kids and family view as fun. Walking the dog is great daily exercise that also teaches children about having the extra responsibility of something in their care.

Develop plan for increasing activities, such as family outings to parks. Alternatively, you can suggest indoor activities such as dancing or jumping rope. Children also love to play games like skipping, hide and seek, hopscotch and tag.

Suggest gifts/rewards that promote physical activity, such as active games, music CDs, or DVDs. With a little incentive you could get the kids doing chores like sweeping the yard, cleaning the family car or even weeding the garden.

It is, however, important to remember that when you child is involved in long exercises; they should include a gradual warming up and cooling down periods. Examples of warming up exercises are brisk walking or jogging on the spot. Similarly, when cooling down, stretching exercises help to restore the muscles resting length.

Improvement in eating habits

You should choose a balanced diet for your child, essentially representing the major food groups of whole grains, vegetables, fruits and legumes. It should also include dairy products, fish, meat and poultry.

Look for unhealthy dietary habits. Limit fast foods or providing lower fat alternatives, eliminating soft drinks or switching to low calorie drinks, changing to 2% or skimmed milk, substituting low-calorie, high-fiber snacks (low-fat popcorn, fruits, or vegetables) for the high calorie ones.

Never let your kid skip his / her breakfast.  However, you should limit your kid’s daily food consumption to frequent small meals instead of a fewer large meals. A difference of three hours between two meals is mostly recommended, constructing 4 to 5 small meals each day.

In short, if managed early and properly, childhood obesity can be successfully controlled. Necessary measures, if taken early by the parents, can change the outcome for obese children or even prevent it happening in the first place. However, such change should be gradual and parents must plan for small, single changes at a time.

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