Obesity or being overweight is now on the rise and poses serious health risks for kids. If you are worried that your child is suffering from the condition read on to find out more about the causes and how you can help prevent it.
Obesity is a serious condition of having excess body fat for a certain height, affecting physical health as well mental well-being in kids as young as three-year-old. According to a study, approximately 16 % of all babies might be considered obese and the percentage of such babies is growing at an alarming rate all over the world.
What exactly is obesity?
BMI (Body Mass Index) is a measure used to assess if a child is overweight or obese.
Normally if BMI is higher by 10 %, a person is considered overweight. If BMI is higher by 20 % or more than it is obesity.
The same formula applies to babies too. If a baby is too young to stand up, the weight for length formula can be worked out. A pediatric will certainly alert you if the baby is overweight and this situation should never be overlooked.
Obese and overweight kids are at a higher risk of health problems including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, high blood pressure, bone and joint problems.
Helping Overweight or Obese Children
There are several factors which contribute to child obesity, yet at times, we may not be able to know the exact cause. But do not start a small child on a strict diet solely on your personal perceptions of overweight.
Consult a pediatrician if you are concerned because different kids have different growth patterns and judging a kid on a bar scale is not the ideal method of correct determination.
Your child’s brain and body is developing and needs nourishment. Restrictive diet or strict weight loss regime will strip off energy and nutrients required for healthy growth.
Therefore, as a parent, your focus should be on maintaining the current weight as the body gains height. Preventative measures and promoting healthy lifestyle should be your strategy to defeat obesity.
Prevention of obesity in toddlers
There are a number of ways that parents can prevent obesity in their toddlers, including –
- Respect your child’s appetite and keep a close watch on the portion size of the kids. Don’t force them to finish everything served to them.
- Avoid packaged foods with extra sugar.
- Imbibe healthy habits in your child by providing with a healthy diet with more nutrients but lesser calories.
- Provide fiber rich foods
- Monitor their calorie intake Be smart about snacks and high-calorie sweets but don’t ban anything completely
- Plan family physical activities like cycling, walking, park, or some sport.
- Enroll the kid in some activities like
- Limit screen time especially during meal times as it leads to overeating.
- Encourage them to drink lots of water
- Do not bribe them with sweet desserts and limit consumption of sugar-rich beverages.
- Encourage your child to participate in active play and reduce sedentary lifestyle
However, any diet or exercise plan should not be taken up without the advice of your healthcare professional. Weight loss surgeries and strong medications are not often prescribed to small kids.
Obese children often become victims of social stigma. They are bullied in schools and suffer from low self-esteem and depression. Parents need to talk to them, be their strong support system and take care of their emotional well-being.
Remember that obesity is something which can be controlled and early detection is a good sign.