Apple-faced, full-bellied children can be visions of cherubic cuteness, making for darling little candidates for cheek pulls and bear hugs. Oftentimes, however, overweight and obese children are at high risk of developing medical conditions like juvenile diabetes; a trade-off that can prove fatal in the long run. Although some cases of childhood obesity are rooted in hormonal or medical disorders, the majority are caused by unhealthy food habits and insufficient exercise.
If you have a child teetering on obesity, it’s vital that you reconsider your lifestyle and stay abreast of risk factors. Here’s a look at some.
Processed, sugary and high-calorie foods, consumed regularly, can pave the way for an unhealthy lifestyle. Translation: pizza, pakoras, puri, mithai, sweets, desserts are best left off the table. If your child is prone to snacking between meals, introduce healthy mid-morning and evening snacks to their routine. Explore recipes with nuts, fruits and veggies, and mix things up to keep the menu exciting. Kids love colours and shapes, so get creative with cookie cutter-veggies and teddy bear omelettes (you’ll find delightful animal-themed pans online).
iPad dinners, bedtime TV and on-the-go video games can turn your child into an asocial homebody. With less time outdoors, the only type of stimulation your child will get is visual – relegating physical activity to a few hours, if that, per week. Think of ways to add more physical activity to your child’s life. Make evening playtimes mandatory, turn weekend cycling mornings into a tradition and visit the local park once in a while. By making exercise a fun-filled affair, your child will learn to look at it as more than a health requirement.
Your pantry can be a cause for good or bad. And it’s up to you to shape it into either. If you’re one to stock up on sugary treats, deep-fried snacks and other fattening items, you’re setting the stage for a lifetime of unhealthy eating habits for your child. Instead, be conscious about what you buy and remember to set an example. Substitute namkeen with makana, jellies and desserts with fresh fruit and flavoured beverages with homemade juices, milkshakes and smoothies. Striking a balance doesn’t mean you have to cut off indulgences completely. Make them a once-a-week affair to show your child that they can still be had in moderation.
It is rare for a child to be genetically predisposed to obesity, but there are a handful of conditions that may increase risk. Hypothyroidism, Prader-Willi syndrome and Cushing’s syndrome, for example, are known triggers.
A family history of overweight may contribute to obesity in a child, more so for food choices and eating habits than genetic construct.
Did you know that chronic fatigue can boost the hormone responsible for controlling appetite? You can install an early checkpoint for obesity by ensuring your child gets the right amount of sleep appropriate for their age.
Some kids may find comfort in food, especially when going through stress at school or at home. By taking notice early, you can channel your child’s anxiety into creative outlets and encourage them to talk about their emotions.
Obesity almost always stems from an underlying condition that can be addressed early with medical intervention. If you’re unsure about how to deal with your child’s escalating weight, speak to a paediatrician to seek appropriate guidance. By acting now, you can protect your child against future health risks, and lead them to put junk in the waste, not on the waist.