Childhood Obesity – An Ever Increasing Problem
According to the latest statistics, 17% of American children suffer from being over weight and in some cases obese. The figure for most other western countries is on a similar level. If that figure indicates a huge problem – and it certainly does – then consider the fact that the number is getting worse year by year.
There is now growing concern by both parents and the medical profession that unless action is taken now, these figures will explode in the future. The consequences of that do not seem to be fully understood by most parents,
Being over weight or obese can lead to numerous health problems that will influence a person’s quality of life. Problems such as heart disease; diabetes; hypertension; sleep apnea; mobility problems; and a shorter life expectancy.
However, if a child is seen to be putting on excess weight, it will be instantly recognizable by the parents. From there parents can set in motion a regime that will firstly stop the increase in weight, and then reduce it to a more acceptable level.
If parents have a child who is putting on weight, then before coming up with a solution, the parents need to find out the cause of the weight increase. Generally, it will be caused by two factors. Firstly an incorrect diet, and secondly lack of physical exercise.
The human body gets all the energy it needs from the food it eats. However whilst a lot of this energy is expended on the every day activities of life, the unused energy is retained in the body and stored there as fat. This leads to an increase in weight.
Therefore, the first condition to be addressed is the problem of the child eating food that leads to weight gain. The parents should impress upon the child the long-term adverse consequences of eating high calorie, low nutritional value food. Out with the Junk food, In with the Good food. Out with high calorie soft drinks and deep-fried food, in with a diet of fresh food covering all food groups but eaten in moderate portions.
The most difficult aspect of ensuring compliance with this is having control over the food the child eats when absent from home. This is where the importance of having a close
Relationship with the child is paramount to encourage him/her to follow the parent’s wishes.
There should be no more eating outside of designated meal times.
The second aspect of weight reduction is to set up a program of regular physical exercise.
Engaging in physical exercise is another excellent way of getting rid of excess fat, so reducing weight. Emphasis to the child the need to have regular, sustained exercise. This may involve taking the dog for a walk each morning or perhaps after school when the child has more time,
playing a sport after school; walking to and from school.
If the child is keen to lose weight and not regain it, then perhaps draw a graph showing the recorded weight at a particular time of day, say before bed. Once the child knows that progress is being made that is enough to spur them on to achieve greater weight loss. Perhaps a small gift from the parents to reward the effort might be an encouragement.
If there is more than one child in the family, then it is likely that all the children will experience a weight gain problem. In which case exercise for the whole family might be the best approach.
Plan regular weekend outings that involve exercise or similar – swimming; playing sport/games; nature walks etc. Indeed any thing that leads to weight loss.
As well as getting children interested in physical activities, parents should also attempt to get children away from the TV and computer. Non-physical activities should be frowned upon and severely limited. A particular time of day should be allotted to watching TV and using the computer. Moreover, it should be strictly followed. Perhaps a limit of 2 hours a day only, providing the child is experiencing weight loss.