Statistics reveal that 1 in 5 children in America are overweight. This is a serious concern as the numbers amongst obese children increase steadily each year. There are many risk factors associated with childhood obesity which include diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, skin problems and even mental issues like depression. This growing concern can be tied to a number of things, including family diet and lifestyle choices, genetics and the lack of physical activity. The cause can even be linked to a hormonal medical conditions, which would call for a doctor to asses. It is important that caregivers be conscious of their child’s weight and take proactive measures to help prevent or manage obesity in their children. In this article we will go over causes, prevention and some tips on how we can begin reversing childhood obesity.
What Causes Childhood Obesity?
There are many factors that can contribute to childhood obesity. With the increasing expansion of technology and video games, children are becoming more and more inactive. Kids spend an average of 4 hours a day using tech, whether that be television, computer or gaming devices. This has taken away from regular physical activity outside of school that once helped kids maintain a healthy weight. Familial eating and lifestyle habits also play a big role. Overweight parents extend their eating habits to their children, which causes the child to develop the same obese body type. Poor food choices, a lack of nutrition and constant cravings can send children in a vicious cycle of the consumption of sugary and processed foods, all of which contribute to weight gain. Mental illness can also cause obesity. Emotional trauma, anxiety, depression and even feelings of abandonment and neglect, can cause a child to fall into emotional eating habits, seeing food as a form of comfort or “escape”.
How Do I Know my Child is Obese?
The best thing to do is talk to your doctor. Assessing the child’s weight and height, then comparing it the BMI (Body Mass Index), will help to determine if your child falls under the categories of under, average or overweight. Do not assume your child is overweight, it is always best to check with a licensed health care professional for sound advice.
How Can I Help My Child?
Prevention is always better than cure, but there is still and will always be hope if you want to help an obese child return to a healthier body weight. Making a collective effort as a family to incorporate more healthier eating habits is a great place to start. As the parent, although you may not always be able to control what your child eats outside the home, you can control what they eat within the home. Your actions can have a grand impact on your child’s weight loss journey. Making more healthful choices as a family to eliminate poor eating habits and getting active as a family can combat the lack of physical activity, both of which are the main causes childhood obesity. Start off slow and gradually replace unhealthy foods and drinks with wholesome nutritious foods. You can start by replacing all the juice and sodas with water in the home, always have healthy snacks available and begin baking and roasting instead of frying food. Mask vegetables and greens powder in sweet tasting banana and strawberry smoothies. Go for walks, sign the child up in an extra curricular activities and limit his/her play time with tech. Our body and brain need glucose (sugar), so it must not be completely ruled out of the diet. Instead of refined white sugar and processed foods like cookies, fries and chips, try sweet fruits like mangos and bananas. Use honey and Stevia as sweeteners and replace your white flour, sugar and rice with its brown or whole wheat or whole grain counterpart.
These are just a few suggestions but it’s important to do whatever works for you and your family. Slow and steady is the most beneficial way to ensure that your child does not resort to old eating habits.
Talking to your child
Your child being obese may be a very sensitive topic for them and can have a lot of emotional waves attached to it. It’s important to give your child room to express themselves openly, sharing their concerns and possible insecurities. If you feel they need to speak with someone more qualified, then seek help. Sometimes a boost in confidence and a safe place to express your feelings can help propel the journey of loosing weight much quicker. Do not neglect your child’s mental health, check up on them regularly and boost their confidence with supportive and reassuring words.
Childhood Obesity Prevention
Keep your child active. School activities are not enough, sign them up in activities outside the home, like dance or sports.
Incorporating vitamins and protein powders in your child’s diet is a great way to keep them satiated and nutritionally nourished. Protein powders help to curb cravings and reduce binge eating which in essence, prevents possible weight gain. Vitamins are also a great preventative. Multivitamins and minerals like kids gummy’s and chewable tablets feed the cells, promote a healthy metabolism and supplies natural energy to the body. All of which contribute to optimal health and the prevention of childhood obesity related problems.
Childhood obesity is a serious and growing problem in America. If you see that your child may be overweight, go see a doctor to rule out any possible medical conditions. Keep you child active and set an example in the home by incorporating healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices. This is the primary prevention for childhood obesity, it starts in the home and with what the child is exposed to by way of food and physical activity. Diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol in obese children can all be avoided when proactive measures are taken. If your child is obese, do not worry as there are many resources and solutions to assist your child on their weight loss journey.