Understanding childhood obesity; 7 ways to control body weight of children

By Dr. Ashwani Sammi Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition and it can lead to life-threatening conditions - Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Blood Sugar, High Triglycerides, Low HDL Cholesterol, Heart Disease, or even
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India TV Lifestyle Desk New Delhi December 19, 2016 15:37 IST

By Dr. Ashwani Sammi

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition and it can lead to life-threatening conditions - Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Blood Sugar, High Triglycerides, Low HDL Cholesterol, Heart Disease, or even Cancer, to name a few.

Besides, it can also lead a child to poor self-esteem and depression.Studies have shown that obese children are likely to become obese adults increasing the risk of various associated diseases.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has alarmed the nations to take actions to curb this fast emerging epidemic.

A study conducted in 2014 by WHO found that 48% of obese and overweight children under the age of five live in Asia. The developing nations like India, thus have to take actions in dual ways- to curb the malnutrition and on other side this obesity problem.

We all need to understand that childhood obesity is related to mother’s health, her conditions during pregnancy and the environment in which the child is raised.  We can understand these reasons as

follows:

1.    Healthy  mother, healthy child 

If the mother is obese or has gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy), the chances of the child being obese increases. If the mother is healthy and has good eating habits they get transferred to the children and they become healthy. Also, if mothers have lesser disease risk, the genetic load of inheritance of diseases is reduced. So, foremost action for controlling childhood obesity and overweight issues are to educate mothers to eat healthy and exercise regularly.

2.     Avoid overfeeding

Mothers thesedays are very enthusiastic about feeding their children after every small interval. They sometimes start overfeeding them with sugar loaded dishes or energy dense foods. 

Overfeeding children over a period of time makes them lose the sense of satiety and they start over eating or demanding food which may have detrimental effects on their health.

3. Proper Diet

Poor diet can cause your child to develop obesity. Parents need to be cautious about not making food as a reward or punishment. The should children that we eat food to nourish overselves and be healthy. Good eating habits need to be inculcated. Inclusion of salads, vegetables, good proteins and fats is important. Make your children understand the importance of eating fruits. Encourage the children to eat with family so that they share the same meal and learn to include variety.

4. Water intake

Intake of water is very essential for all of us. Encourage your children to drink water. Let them understand the sensation of thirst and not confuse it with hunger. Moreover, giving then sugary drinks too often, gives them cavities and has bad effects on health. Let juices be taken on a treat meal or an occasion.

5. Avoid Sweets

The reward should not always be given in the form of candies and choclates. Gift your children books, colours or other creative toys. Let them understand different forms of enjoyment and not just remain focus on happiness with sweets. Sweets make them hyperactive, create mood swings, cause cavities and cause aggression.

6. Avoid junk food

Regular intake of high-calorie foods, baked goods, fried snacks, Candies, desserts; sugary drinks (flavoured juices, cold drinks) can cause weight gain and obesity. Turn their junk food to healthy foods. If they wish to have pasta or noodles, add loads of vegetables and help them develop the taste for it. Make cutlets at home with beans/ chicken mixed with vegetables. Encourage them to have salads, sprouts and try other natural food items.

7. Make sure your kids exercise

Children who don't exercise, and avoid physical activities (sports)are more likely to gain weight. Children should be encouraged for outdoor sports instead of watching television or playing video games indoor. Go to the market walking or cycling and do not use the car for every small travel. Encourage them to use stairs and not the elevator at all places possible. Small good habits go a long way in developing healthy lifestyle for children.

In case, your child is showing some unusual signs and symptoms or has unexplained disorders, consult your General Physician who can analyse child’s medical history, and other paramters to understand the reasons and guide you accordingly.

The author is Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist at Amandeep Hospital

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