Childhood obesity is a matter of grave concern, as obese children often grow into obese adults, with other health problems like cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
It not only affects the physical health of the child but also interferes with his/her emotional behavior, often arising from fat/body shaming by peers.
As stated by WHO, obesity rates in infants aged 0-5 years, increased globally to 41 million in 2016 from 32 million in 1990. The rate of increase is 30% higher in developing countries than developed countries. These numbers are startling and need an immediate attention.
Promote healthy eating in your child:
– Let mealtimes be something children look forward to. Give them your complete attention.Hear out their stories.You may keep TV switched off. Have some nice background music so that the family is relaxed at mealtime.
– Prepare healthy meals. Be aware of the quality of food served ( oil & sugar content) at home. Many a time this part is overlooked by parents. It has been seen that even the regular food is also calorie dense at homes, which is unhealthy. This apparent;y done to supposedly make it tastier by cooks/ maids/ family etc
– Be a role-model and make nutritious choices yourself. This creates a more powerful impression on your child as he/she looks up to you for most of the things.
– Keep the preparation and presentation appealing for your children. Use different shapes to cut vegetables and/or choose bright color utensils to serve the food.
– Do not force the child to eat or overeat if they are not hungry or if they are full. Caretakers including many mothers feel happy if the child overeats but this becomes a habit & continues in adulthood which is difficult to change later in life
– Fast foods can be made healthier either outside or at home by modifications like choosing whole grain options in bread, avoiding extra cheese, butter or calorie rich dressings etc
– Efforts to control weight gain should be started early as fully developed behavior is harder to change and requires more effort.
Childhood obesity is a challenge, and joint efforts are required to fight back its consequences on the children. Be a smart parent and teach your child to make healthier choices, so they can grow into healthier adults and lead a happier life.