Across the world childhood obesity has now become a major problem, with approximately 15% of the world’s children being obese. This high level in obesity among our children has been caused by a change in the eating habits of children. In days gone by, we made sure that children were treated to fresh food, vegetables and whole grain; whether or not they thought it was desirable. However, some homes today have replaced these healthy foods with foods which are high in sugar, fat and additives. The great reduction in physical activity by both children and adults is also another major reason for this problem. Children and adults are now spending more time watching the TV and playing computing games, both of which do not require any real physical activity.
Child obesity is a real problem; these children normally end up having a low self esteem, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, depression and joint problems. In addition if they enter adulthood being overweight, they are prone to health risks like a stroke, high blood pressure, heart attack, bowel cancer, diabetes and arthritis. Due to the many fast food chains around today aiming directly at serving our children these low nutritional and high calorie foods, the problem seems to be worsening.
Our children and teens are no longer encouraged to participate in moderate exercise as parents are strapped for time and so are not able to accompany them to the local park and provide supervision while they play. This is also compounded by the fear of strangers and kidnapping. As a result many children are not allowed to play a sport, cycle or walk to school. Instead they are made to stay inside and watch TV or play a computer game.
In order to prevent childhood obesity, these practices must be stopped and if your child or a child you care for is obese, encourage the child to lose weight through gradual and long lasting positive eating habits and exercise, instead of a weight loss diet. Encourage children to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet inclusive of many different types of nutritious foods, having a lot of vegetables and fresh fruits; and to become more physically active.
You will also need to supervise the progress of their weight loss until they have reached a healthy weight that they can maintain. Parents will also need to make healthy food choices available at home and provide various exercising options. It would be good to include children in shopping ventures and the preparation of meals, as a medium to teach them about nutrition and healthier food choices.
Assigning chores is a great way to help get children active in the home. Reduce the time spent watching TV and playing computer games to approximately 2 hours and day and use the rest of the time for activities such as walking, swimming, sports, dancing, and bike riding. Try to do these at least 3 or 4 times a week. Performing these activities together will not only be making your children healthy but they will also make you bond and become strengthened as a family unit.