What Are The Ways To Prevent Childhood Obesity & Does It Reoccur?

Obesity is the leading cause of many health problems and around two billion children and adults globally suffer from these problems. Currently, the growth rate of obesity in children is much higher than in adults.

Statistics show that India is second in the world after China in terms of obese children. Childhood obesity can be identified by measuring body mass index or BMI. Children with BMI ranging from 85 to 95% are considered obese. Overweight and obese children may be exposed to non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disorders at a relatively young age.(1)

What Are The Ways To Prevent Childhood Obesity?

It is important to develop good nutritional habits in children right from the beginning. Ensuring adequate physical activity from the right age is an important aspect of every child’s development.

Prevention of lifestyle diseases should start early. Schools can help shape the lives of students and play an important role in the fight against childhood obesity. Healthy habits in childhood mean building a healthy citizen and ensuring the future growth of the nation.

How to deal with unhealthy habits:

  • Promote healthy eating habits right from early in the childhood
  • Provide less calorie-rich foods to your children. Limit snacks with high fat and high sugar or salts
  • Tell children the importance of being physically active
  • Make your children have at least 60 minutes of fast physical activity every day
  • Do not let your child sit idle for a long period in one place
  • Encourage children to play outside.(1)(3)
  • The Right Nutrition Will Help

It is important as parents to estimate and monitor the weight of your child from 0 to 5 years. You can use the WHO / CDC growth curve for lactating infants to know the right weight for your children.

You should breastfeed your children, particularly for the initial 6 to 12 months unless there are some special reasons and advised otherwise by your pediatrician.

Build a healthy eating habit in your home and it should start from you. Do not give food to your child according to his/her demand. Do not over-feed them. Let them feel hungry before giving them meals.(3)

Building Overall Good Habits And Healthy Routine In Life

Remember that your child will learn from you. If you indulge in unhealthy habits then it will reflect on your child. Increase your child’s physical exercises. Play with them, give them your time. Engage in outdoor activities, start walking more, skip elevators and cars when possible.

Erratic daily sleep patterns may cause obesity. Avoid late night sleeping habits and also try to be awake soon in the morning.

Common Dietary Guidelines For Preschool And School Children Are:

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Whole grain products
  • Semi-skimmed or skimmed milk products for children over 2 years old
  • Legumes, fish and lean meats
  • Regular family meals to promote social participation and nutritional behavior
  • Choosing meal hours by parents rather than the children

Things To Avoid In Daily Life:

  • Energy-dense-poor nutrients (e.g. salty snacks, ice creams, fried foods, drinks containing sugar) – use these foods as a rare treat on special occasions
  • Snacks during sedentary activities or in response to moments of boredom
  • Sedentary activities should be limited to 1 to 2 hours of TV/Video, etc.

Does Childhood Obesity Reoccur?

It is important to continue the healthy habits to prevent childhood obesity as going back to unhealthy ways may lead to a recurrence of obesity. (3) (4) (5)

Obesity is increasing among children around the world. The prevalence of overweight and obesity in children is steadily increasing in developed, developing, and under-developed nations as well.

The primary cause of the disease is the lifestyle changes in the modern world where outdoor sports are continued to be neglected, there is a growing tendency to consume more unhealthy foods, fat, sugar, and salt (junk food, processed food), and increased involvement in sedentary activities like watching TV, surfing the Internet, indulge in computer, and mobile games.

Many problems are associated with children suffering from childhood obesity.

Overweight and obesity in childhood can lead to other lifestyle disorders such as dyslipidemia, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, etc. Therefore, there is a need to prevent and control obesity in children.

Obese children and teenagers may have more co-morbid diseases such as sleep apnea and social and psychological problems, causing them to suffer from issues such as lack of self-esteem.(1)(2)

References:

  1. Williams EP, Mesidor M, Winters K, Dubbert PM, Wyatt SB. Overweight and obesity: prevalence, consequences, and causes of a growing public health problem. Current obesity reports. 2015;4(3):363-370.
  2. Skinner AC, Ravanbakht SN, Skelton JA, Perrin EM, Armstrong SC. Prevalence of obesity and severe obesity in US children, 1999–2016. Pediatrics. 2018;141(3):e20173459.
  3. Barlow SE, Trowbridge FL, Klish WJ, Dietz WH. Treatment of child and adolescent obesity: reports from pediatricians, pediatric nurse practitioners, and registered dietitians. Pediatrics. 2002;110(Supplement 1):229-235.
  4. Wadden TA, Bray GA. Handbook of obesity treatment. Guilford Publications; 2018.
  5. Gerritsen S, Wall C, Morton S. Exploring the obesity prevention potential of early childhood education services. Paper presented at: World Congress on Public Health2017.

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