Childhood obesity has become a serious problem over the last several years. It is a condition in which the child is well above the normal weight for his or her height and age. The excess body fat negatively affects the child’s wellbeing and health. This means that diseases which once were confined only to adults such as diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure are now affecting children as well. It can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.
From 1980 to 2013, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children increased by nearly 50%. With more than 42 million overweight children around the world, childhood obesity is a serious concern. Acknowledging the impact of the issue, World Health Organization, in 2014, established a high level commission to end childhood obesity.
One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity, they found, was to improve the diet and exercise habits of the entire family. We as adults need to take the responsibility of shaping the future of our children. Here are 10 tips and tricks that help in keeping today’s children and adolescents, healthy and fit.
- Encourage healthy eating habits
Home environment is the first place to set the foundation for proper nutrition. With proper planning, a child can have a very good day of nutritional food intake. Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits, and wholegrain products in your child’s diet and also include low fat or non fat milk and dairy products. This will supply them with the majority of their body and mind building nutrients.
- Make their favourite dishes healthier
The major complaint of children about healthy food is that it’s boring and doesn’t taste good. The food they like looks colourful and tastes delicious. You can make some changes to their favourites, which retains its appeal as well as serves the nutritional purpose. For example, instead of French fries ask them to try steamed vegetables.
- Avoid calorie-rich food and diet
It’s okay to treat your children with a calorie rich food once in awhile, like an ice-cream treat or a pizza treat. But, it is important to limit high fat and high sugar or salty snacks.
- Help your kids understand the benefits of staying physically active
Teach them that physical activity has great health benefits like:
- Strengthening bone
- Decreasing blood pressure
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Increasing self esteem
- Helping with weight management
- Reduce sedentary time
Activities involving self learning are important like doing homework and reading books. But, children sometimes give this as an excuse to spend more time with gadgets(TV, video games, and internet). Limit the screen time to not more than 2 hours per day.
- Encourage kids to play
Technology has made today’s youth lazy. Encourage them to go out for a walk, ride the bicycle, and participate in recreational activities with their friends. Kids tend to play more often and longer when they are with other kids so this is a great way to get them moving.
- Support organized physical exercise and organized recreation
Most of the schools make students slaves to classrooms and cut off physical exercise and other physical activities deeming them as unimportant to the learning of a child. In reality, physical exercise is probably one of the most important aspects to the learning ability of a child. Hence, support and encourage organized physical activity in and out of school.
- Respect your child’s appetite
Parents always have this paranoia of children not getting enough nutrition if they don’t finish their meal. We have to understand that sometimes children do not have to finish everything on their plate or in the bottle. Understand your child’s appetite and prepare meals according to their requirement.
- Avoid pre-prepared foods
The nutritional value is very less in pre-prepared food, but is filled with unnecessary sugars and salts. As a growing child, they need food rich in nutrients like vegetables, fruits, nuts, milk and dairy products, and lots and lots of water. Avoid pre-prepared foods.
- Lead by example
Asking children to do something you are unwilling to do yourself will usually yield poor results. Children learn by imitating their elders. Hence, it is important to lead by example by staying active, eating healthy and encouraging kids to do the same.“Practice what you preach” is the motto for encouraging kids to get moving and taking on a healthier lifestyle.