Obesity among children has reached epidemic proportions in many countries. The World Health Organization says that worldwide an estimated 39 million children are overweight. What is behind this global epidemic of childhood obesity?
While genetics can be a predisposing factor, the alarming increase in obesity in recent decades appears to indicate that genes are not the only cause. Although there are some genetic and hormonal causes of childhood obesity, most excess weight is caused by kids eating too much and exercising too little as working parents have less time and energy to prepare meals, and fast food has increasingly become the norm. Such foods are typically high in sugar and fats and are offered in tempting large sizes. Also, soft drinks have replaced milk and water as the beverage of choice.
WHAT ARE THE COMPLICATIONS?
Childhood overweight and obesity has both immediate and long-term health outcomes. Increasingly, obese children are being diagnosed with a range of health conditions previously seen almost exclusively among adults. Childhood unhealthy weights may result in serious medical problems. Three are diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. This will ultimately lead to an increase in healthcare costs, and a high risk of lost productivity.
WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
Nutritionists do not recommend putting children on a restrictive diet, as this may compromise their growth and health
One of the best strategies to combat excess weight in your children is to improve the diet and exercise levels of your entire family
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
- Buy and serve more fruits and vegetables than convenience foods.
- Limit soft drinks, sweetened beverages, and high-fat sugary snack foods. Instead, offer water or low-fat milk and healthful snacks or vegetable smoothies.
- Use cooking methods that are lower in fat, such as baking, broiling, and steaming, instead of frying.
- Encourage physical activity, such as bike riding, playing ball, and jumping rope.
- Assign active chores to your children.
- Set the example in healthful eating and exercise Make healthful habits a family commitment. If you do, they will become a way of life for your children, carrying over into adulthood.