Weight has always been a prominent issue in adults and teenagers. Not only does the extra fat distort your figure, it also carries many disease processes that can have a toll on your health. However, the matter of concern is the fact that more and more children are starting to gain weight and many are tipping over the line and, obese. The alarming rise in the number of obese children in the states signifies the severity of the problem.
Studies suggest the number of obese children in the united states has increased by 3 folds and the number is still rising. At the present moment, studies estimate that everyone in 5 school aged children is obese. Clearly, obesity is becoming a nationwide problem and as our generation succumbs to increasing numbers on the weighing scale, heart diseases, diabetes, GIT disorders and cancers run rampant. Here we describe why child obesity is such a major issue and the impact it can have on the child’s life.
How obesity affects a child’s life
Being overweight is never healthy for the body. There are both short term and long term effects of excess fat that can seriously undermine the regular activities and thinking processes of children. In the short term, obesity causes the body’s metabolism to slow down. Children become sluggish and lazy. Furthermore, obesity can scar a child’s social life. Usually, these children are made fun of and shunned, which can lead to isolation and damaging effects on the personality. In addition to this, the child often suffers from body issues and struggles to accept himself. His confidence suffers and may deal with low self esteem issues throughout his life.
Not only this, children who are obese tend to struggle with weight issues throughout life, this is because once produced, a fat cell has a life span of up to 10 years. Now during childhood years, multiplying fat cells is easy, however, these fat cells will only shrink even when the child is made to lose weight. These shrunken cells have a high tendency to accumulate fat, making the child susceptible to weight gain. In addition to this, obesity is related to a number of diseases in the long run. Studies suggest that an elevated number of free fatty acids in the blood can make the tissues unresponsive to insulin, precipitating diabetes. Furthermore, the elevated levels of lipids in the blood tend to stick to the arterial walls and lead to hypertension and heart diseases in later life.
How to counteract childhood obesity?
Clearly, there are a number of consequences of obesity. However, parents fail to realize the many ways they are contributing to the problem. Many parents cloud their judgment with love that is actually bad for their own child. Part of the problem is due to lack of awareness. Parents need to realize the sinister consequences of obesity. An extra ice-cream may seem like a harmless treat at the moment, but it could be one of the many factors contributing to childhood obesity. So, what do you do? For many parents, the journey back is harder than when losing weight themselves. It requires immense strength to refuse the requests of your child, but you need to understand that its or the greater good.
Here we describe certain things that you can do to introduce healthier eating habits at home:
• Promote healthier eating at the table, as a parent, you need to make an effort to make the healthier food appetizing. Children won’t naturally take to the healthier food, but if you make special arrangements, garnishing and create a story around the food, for instance, children can slowly start eating healthy.
• Healthy snacks, a primary problem with many obese children is the excessive number of fatty snacks. You need to throw out the unhealthy junk food and introduce snacks like fruits, veggies, and dairy products that help satisfy their appetite but are low in calories.
• Reduce serving size, another factor that parents need to control is the searing size. Even healthy food in excessive quantities can contribute to weight gain. Hence, you need to slowly incorporate a reduction is the serving size and number of servings. However, you must remember to do this gradually as a sudden drop in the intake can result in negative consequences of its own.
• Promote natural foods, skip the processed juices and opt for the homemade ones that won’t have sugary additions to them. You can make delicious smoothies with yogurt and milk that children love and can serve as a healthier fulfilling alternative to the junk food that they are used to.
• Increasing the protein content is another thing that can help. This is because proteins are primarily responsible for burning an excessive amount of energy. Once the protein levels in the body increase, it automatically increases the levels of energy burnt in the body so that energy is consumed even at rest. This helps to drop weight fast.
• Exercise, the recent sedentary lifestyle that has become the norm is extremely harmful to children. Sitting and using screens all the time, children have extremely limited physical activities. Hence, their energy stores are never utilized and the balance of energy consumption and utilization never tips in favour of the later. Hence, children tend to gain weight chronically. You need to introduce fun activities that involve running. Take your children to a park to enjoy. This will help encourage them to play about, increasing their physical activity levels and burning energy.
• Awareness, children nowadays are fully aware of what’s wrong and what’s right. Most are capable of understanding the consequences of what they do. Providing your child with a detailed realization of what could happen when a person is overweight and highlighting the benefits of losing it can encourage the child to work towards a lower weight. An understanding between the child and parent is usually the first step that can help significantly with all the other steps to weight loss.
All in all, obesity is a disease that more and more of our population is suffering from. Children, in particular, need rapid assessment and treatment in order to protect them from the long-term harmful effects of excessive weight. Losing weight can be hard at the start, however, if you encourage your child with rewards and milestones, they are likely to cover the journey to weight loss much more easily. We need to protect the future of our children and that starts with taking care of their health today!
Anon, (2017). [ebook] Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Anne_Rhodes2/publication/26787844_Identifying_deliberate_self-harm_in_emergency_department_data/links/54ddf4180cf22a26721d6ad4.pdf#page=2
Bhadoria, A., Sahoo, K., Sahoo, B., Choudhury, A., Sufi, N. and Kumar, R. (2015). Childhood obesity: Causes and consequences. Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care, 4(2), p.187.
Cdc.gov. (2017). Early Care and Education (ECE) | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. [online] Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/strategies/childcareece.html
Dehghan, M., Akhtar-Danesh, N. and Merchant, A. (2005). Childhood obesity, prevalence and prevention. Nutrition Journal, 4(1).
RS, S. (2017). Childhood obesity and self-esteem. – PubMed – NCBI. [online] Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10617752