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Overeating, binge eating, inactivity and genetics are key players in the path to childhood obesity. Obesity can be defined as a serious medical condition when the body gets accumulated with so much excess fat that it becomes detrimental to his or her health conditions. In recent years, there has been an increase in the issues of weight gain in children, especially during the pandemic, which has led to a boom in physical inactivity.
If childhood obesity is left unattended, it leaves serious consequences like diabetes, hypertension, and heart diseases at a young age!
In addition, obesity in children is a condition that can have a negative impact on their self-esteem and mental well-being. So, to discuss children obesity HealthShots got in touch with Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker, Consultant Bariatric and Laparoscopic Surgeon, Saifee, Apollo Spectra, Namaha, and Currae Hospital, Mumbai.
“Being overweight or obese can take a toll on a child’s mental and physical well-being. And there are several health problems that children may encounter due to obesity or being overweight,” says Dr Bhasker.
Obesity can lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol problems in children which are the known risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. Thus, children who are obese may be at high risk to have a heart attack or stroke early in adult life.
Did you know that children who are overweight or obese can have higher chances of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.
Dr Bhasker says, “Type 2 diabetes is now being seen in younger children as well. Children who develop type 2 diabetes early in life suffer longer from the disease, develop complications earlier in life, and tend to have a shorter life span.”
Are your children obese? Then, it is time to make them understand the importance of healthy living, and help them to battle the bulge. Dr Bhasker says, “You will be shocked to know that being overweight can induce breathing problems in children like asthma and sleep apnea.” These problems can be very restrictive and prevent them from carrying out their daily activities with ease or focus on their studies.
Being on the heavier side will invite joint problems as there can be musculoskeletal discomfort. There is increased pressure on the weight-bearing joints which leads to a harmful effect.
Those children who are obese tend to have poor self-esteem, increased anxiety, depression, irritation, frustration, and may feel lonely. They tend to be ridiculed for their weight and can be bullied. Children with obesity tend to avoid socializing with people, and generally do not open up about their feelings.
Moreover, other health problems like fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (heartburn) are also commonly seen in obese children.
Now, if you’re watching your child struggle with their weight, it is easy to feel overwhelmed or helpless. However, this problem can be best tackled by your supervision only! And there’s plenty you can do to help your child.
1. Parents need to proactively participate in inculcating a healthy lifestyle in their children.
2. Parents must be watchful about their child’s eating habits. Make sure that the child doesn’t skip breakfast and has healthy foods. Avoid oily and processed foods in general.
3. Do not skip other meals too. Eat food in controlled quantities. Most importantly children need to avoid binge-eating.
4. Parents should try to include fresh fruits, vegetables, pulses, whole grains, legumes, and lentils in their child’s diet.
5. Avoid pasta, pizza, cake, namkeens, pastries, Chinese, chips, samosa, bhajiya, candies, chocolates, desserts, and sweets.
6. Limit the child’s calorie intake. Make sure that the children avoid eating foods from restaurants.
7. Parents should store healthy snacks for their children. Do read the labels before buying the foods. Whole fruit can be a great snacking option.
8. Encourage children to drink a lot of water instead of colas and other sweetened beverages. Follow the same mealtime.
9. Limit the usage of electronic gadgets during mealtime.
10. Do not put your children on crash dieting. Do not take any weight loss pill or drink without the expert’s knowledge.
11. Encourage children to be active and participate in household chores.
12. Children must also be given time to play.
13. In today’s world, there is a lot of focus on academics and most kids are shuttling between one class to another, which leaves them with no time to be physically active. This needs to change and parents must consciously create active time for play for kids.
14. A loving environment with gentle persuasion to follow a healthy lifestyle is the key. Also, reward the children from time to time.
Above all, parents need to set an example for their children by following a healthy lifestyle themselves. Children will always emulate their parents for most things. It’s high time we focus on the health of our children. Healthy children make a healthy nation!