Childhood obesity is one of the biggest threats to the well being of 21st century kids. Despite being the most aware we’ve ever been about the importance of eating healthy, childhood obesity rates have tripled since 1963. Statistics show that 1 in every 3 kids suffer from obesity in America. Obesity is now considered a disability and millions of dollars are spent every year on health care related to the disease caused by obesity. Obese kids have a reduced life expectancy than kids who don’t, by about five years.
Where once a child with heart disease was rare to find, now, about 70 percent of obese children already have at least one risk factor that will develop into a serious cardiovascular disease later in life. Other dilemmas of this condition include, diabetes, increased risk for asthma, precocious puberty, weak bones and so on. With junk food and fast food readily and cheaply available, parents have stopped making an effort to cook healthy meals at home. With more susceptibility to disease, more and more kids skip school every day, hindering their mental development at such an early age.
There are many ways parents can be more cautious and help prevent childhood obesity in their kids. The best efforts and most fruitful efforts are always made by the family as a whole.
1. Increase Physical Activity
One of the most common causes of childhood obesity is the lack of exercise. Parents should encourage some sort of physical exercise and work it into their children’s daily routine. This need not be going to the gym and lifting weights, but fun activities like sports, dance, walking the dog, going to the park with friends, swimming or riding the bike etc.
2. Reduce Sugar
Post-dinner desserts or the daily sugar intake of the child should be reduced to the minimum. As mentioned before, obese kids are at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One of the major sources is carbonated drinks and sodas which should be eliminated from the diet at all costs by both kids and adults.
3. Limit Screen Time
Limit the number of hours spent sitting in front of the television or playing video games. The number of hours sitting is directly related to the risk of obesity and other health risks later in life.
4. Add Fruits and Veggies
Incorporate fruits and vegetables into kids’ daily diets. You can find interesting ways and recipes to make veggies tastier for kids. The nutrients present in fruits and vegetables are extremely useful for their growth and development. Instead of dessert and sweets, offer fruits.
5. Eat Together
Set a good example by eating with the family at home as often as you can. Home cooked food is, guaranteed, healthier than the food at restaurants, and this way you can keep an eye out for what your child is eating.
6. Eat Multiple Small Meals
Portion control is important for all age groups alike. Limit your child’s portion in accordance with their BMI. Do not force them to eat everything on their plate, instead give out smaller portions. Giving out multiple smaller portions makes a person more conscious about the amount of food they consume and makes them realize sooner that they are full.
7. Consult a Pediatrician
Take your child for routine checkups to the doctor where they can calculate the BMI, which can give you an idea about how to proceed forward. Consult a pediatrician and nutritionist if you have to.