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If global estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO) are anything to go by, in 2019, around 38.2 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese. Also, almost half of the children under 5 who were overweight or obese in 2019 lived in Asia. That number is only on the rise, given the lack of outdoor activity that children have had a chance to engage in since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world. But now a new study has found out that combating the risk and incidence of childhood obesity can happen with positive parenting, warm interactions and by giving a child a good and healthy environment.
The study, published in the Pediatrics journal, is called ‘Family Psychological Assets, Child Behavioural Regulation, and Obesity. After analysing data from over 1,000 mother-child pairs, researchers found that a child’s early exposure to a good home environment, emotional warmth from the mother, and a child’s ability to self-regulate indulgences, played a role in reducing the risk of developing childhood obesity.
While psychological family assets impact children’s behaviour, academic success and career, researchers felt that these factors can also protect kids against childhood obesity, noted Brandi Rollins, assistant research professor of bio-behavioural health.
According to the research, if parents indulge in responsive parenting by responding to children in a timely, sensitive and age-appropriate manner, it can have a positive impact on the child.
“Some risk factors, like household poverty, can be very difficult to change. Assets, on the other hand, maybe easier to build. People can learn to parent responsively. It is encouraging that parenting really matters, that family matters,” Rollins said.
Childhood obesity needs to be taken seriously as it not just takes a physical toll on kids, but impacts their mental health too. It can spark a sense of low self-esteem, social anxiety and even mood disorders.
One has to understand that either a child has inherited obesity or it has happened as a result of an unhealthy environment where there is no or lack of control on what they consume.
Parents must facilitate good eating and lifestyle habits which children can imbibe from.
* Encourage them to eat healthier by consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats. Make a proper meal plan tailored to their needs.
* Get innovative and replace milkshakes or ice cream with fruit and vegetable smoothies.
* Control their portion sizes.
* Keep a check on food labels.
* Keep sugar-laden drinks and fast food items out of their reach.
* Inculcate a proper exercise regime.
(With inputs from ANI)