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Childhood Obesity – Can We Prevent it?

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As mums, we want our children to be healthy. But if our child is showing signs of being overweight or obese, we are bound to be concerned.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are 41 million overweight or obese infants and young children in the world, and, if current trends continue, we’ll be seeing 70 million obese children by 2025.

How can we tell if our child is overweight?

Our child’s weight alone is not a reliable measure of obesity. We have to consider his height as well. A tall child can weigh more than a shorter child and still not be overweight. We can determine this from a regular doctor visit by getting his height and weight checked. And then figure out if our child has a healthy weight or is overweight.

What causes childhood obesity?

Simply put, overeating is a leading factor. Eating more food than the body needs, eating high-calorie, high-fat and low nutrition food like chips fast food and sweets and lack of exercise – all these combine to cause obesity. Children who watch more than 2 hours of TV a day, usually accompanied by unhealthy snacks, are also more likely to become overweight.

Why we should be concerned?

  • * Obese children are more likely to have other chronic health conditions and diseases, such as asthma, sleep apnea, bone and joint problems, and type 2 diabetes. Onset of diabetes in children can lead to heart disease and kidney failure.
  • * Children with obesity are also at higher risk for heart disease like high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • * Obese children are more likely to be obese adults, which can lead to lifelong physical and mental health problems.
  • *Obese children are more likely to be bullied and teased. More likely to be isolated socially which could result in depression and low self-esteem, the effects of which can last into adulthood.

How can we prevent our child from becoming overweight?

Healthy habits start at home. So, with a little planning and gentle coaxing, we can encourage a lifetime of healthy living.

  • 1. Get moving: We could incorporate more physical activity into our child’s daily life. For eg. involve him in chores, use the stairs instead of the elevator, go cycling in the park.
  • 2. Pick a sport: Kids are naturally inclined to sports. So, we can encourage our child to pick a sport that she likes. Kids are also more likely to be sporty if they see us playing a sport and being active ourselves.
  • 3. Encourage our child to eat right: To avoid the temptation to snack on junk food, we should avoid stocking any unhealthy food in the house. Keep chopped fruits and veggies at hand, so that when hunger strikes, they’re more likely to eat healthy.
  • 4. Go out: When we spend more time together doing family activities such as swimming, going for a picnic, playing fun games, our kids are less likely to spend hours watching TV or the computer.
  • 5. Consult an expert: If we’re worried our kids are obese, we should consult a dietician to create a customised food plan.

Mums, if we create the right eating habits from the start, we not only prevent obesity, but also set our kids up for a lifetime of good health.

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