Childhood obesity is a serious concern, but how can you prevent it in your kids? Be proactive, be involved and make health the priority
Everyone loves chubby kids and adores baby fat. But an excess of chubbiness can actually be dangerous for your child. Obesity is a real problem that parents have to deal with these days, thanks to the unhealthy lifestyle, food choices and lack of physical activity in children.
Reports suggest that 39.6% of kids are overweight and about 18% of them are borderline obese.
These statistics were generated after multiple tests, studies and surveys of children aged between 2-12 years from different parts of the world.
If you are concerned about your little one transitioning towards obesity, don’t worry. With a few simple and fundamental changes, obesity need not be a concern.
1. Follow a Common Weight-loss Regimen in the family
As parents you need to set the right example for your kids. Children learn a lot through observation. You can lecture them all you want about the importance of eating their veggies, but they are going to follow your footsteps. If you chomp on crisps and fries in front of them, they are sure to follow suit. So, if you want your child to eat healthy, start eating healthy yourself and model these practices for your kids.
2. Boosting Your Kid’s Morale
As parents, it is your responsibility to help the child develop a positive self-image and personality. Don’t go about demotivating or discouraging the kids about their weight.
Kids have a lot to deal with these days, from the media glorifying a conventional beauty stereotype to peer pressure forcing pre-teens and teens into feeling badly about their bodies. They don’t need that negativity at home as well.
Talk to your children, teach them about their bodies and how to best take care of it. You should be the safe space for your young ones, guiding them to be better. Encourage your kids, celebrate the little wins that they achieve, participate with them in their weight loss regimen — it all goes a long way to show that you support your child no matter what.
3. Setting Realistic Goals
Don’t take measures that endorse drastic weight loss. Take baby steps, set realistic goals and also have a few ‘cheat’ days here and there to keep your kids motivated. Cutting some slack and taking a breather once in a while is not a bad thing. You can consult a doctor or a nutritionist to figure out the appropriate calorie intake and exercise routine.
4. Make informed Dietary Changes
The first and foremost rule to keeping a healthy lifestyle is a healthy diet.
Balanced, nutritious diet can work wonders in boosting the child’s muscle strength, bones and overall stamina and energy levels. Plan your meals in such a way that they incorporate all the proteins, carbohydrates and nutrients required for the total development of the body. Avoid anything that is fried or has excessive sugar in it. Parents can experiment with healthy, organic and fresh snacks like granola bars, nuts, homemade vegetable soups and salads instead.
5. Never Skip Breakfast
Always ensure that your kids have their breakfast. A healthy breakfast will give your child sustained energy to begin the day — and can provide an added opportunity to connect with them by squeezing in a little ‘family time’. Stay away from sweets and be wary of most store-bought baked goods and cereals, which can be high in sugars and low in nutrition. Instead, offer better alternatives like whole grains, low-sugar natural yogurt, fresh fruits, green veggies, eggs and lean meats.
6. The Trouble with Juices
Contrary to popular belief, liquid diets are not the healthiest way to shed those kilos. In fact, fruit juices can make matters a lot worse. Packaged juice often contains chemicals, excessive sugar and adulterants. Even for ‘all natural’ juices, the process of extracting the juice from the pulp strips away most of the fiber and many of the vitamins — leaving a sugary drink that’s high in calories, yet devoid of much of the original nutritional value. Therefore, enjoy fruit juice in small quantities.
On the other hand, juicing vegetables, which are naturally low in sugars and high in vitamins and anti-oxidants is a fantastic way to boost nutrition and aid in weight loss. And to make the taste more appealing to your child (or you!), add in some pieces of fruit, such as apple, to the mix of what you are juicing.
7. Say NO to Junk Food
This might be a bit difficult to execute, but you need to put a stop to all the oily fries, sodas and cheesy pizzas that your kid consumes.
It is called junk food for a reason — it is literally junk.
Excessive ‘fast foods’ and other highly processed junk foods can cause heart ailments, fatty liver disease, breathing problems, high cholesterol and other issues. The gravity of this situation should be enough to compel you and your kids to eat healthy and stay fit.
8. The Importance of Playtime
These days, children hardly go out and play with their friends in parks and fields. Social media, video games and the television usually usurp most of their time, limiting their physical activity to just twirling their thumbs or reaching out for the remote. Motivate your kids to go out and play, participate with them, organize games, take them on camping trips and hikes — it’s a great way to reconnect with nature and get healthy.
9. Get Involved
It’s critical that you are involved in your children’s lives. Talk to them about their day, their school work, their friends, their activities. Oftentimes, parents have no idea what the child is going through.
Sudden weight gain and withdrawal from the family are often signs of depression or other mental health issues.
If matters get serious, do not hesitate to seek professional help.
10. Bid Adieu to the Sofa
The sofa can be the biggest enemy for your kids. Sitting or sleeping on the couch and watching a favorite web series should be restricted. Rather than browsing through social media feeds on the sofa, it’s always better to take a short walk or jog in the park. Encourage your children to be active. Introduce them to sports and suggest they join a team.
Instilling healthy practices early on will surely lead your child towards a sustainable and healthy weight level.
Dealing with the issue of kids’ obesity can become quite overwhelming for parents. It’s not easy, especially when you are busy yourself, to keep watch over your children’s eating habits and activities. Yet, if you can stay involved with your children and model the lifestyle choices that you’d like to see them adopt, healthy weight levels will become natural byproduct of a vibrant and joyful life.
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