One in 5 children (5-19 years old) is overweight these days. This has nothing to do with “puppy fat” and unless something changes these children do not “grow out of it”. Instead, they face very real immediate and future health risks.
Immediate health effects:
- Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for cardiovascular disease, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. In a population-based sample of 5- to 17-year-olds, 70% of obese youth had at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
- Obese adolescents are more likely to have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood glucose levels indicate a high risk for development of diabetes.
- Children and adolescents who are obese are at greater risk for bone and joint problems, sleep apnoea, and social and psychological problems such as stigmatization and poor self-esteem.
Long-term health effects:
- Children and adolescents who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore more at risk for common adult health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, several types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. One study showed that children who became obese as early as age 2 were more likely to be obese as adults.
- Overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk for many types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, oesophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
So how do you tackle this issue?
- Balancing calories: Help Kids Develop Healthy Eating Habits Offer your kids nutritious meals and snacks with an appropriate number of calories. You can help them develop healthy eating habits by making favourite dishes healthier and by reducing calorie-rich temptations.
- Encourage healthy eating habits. Small changes can lead to a recipe for success!
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products.
- Include low-fat or non-fat milk dairy products.
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein.
- Serve reasonably sized portions.
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water.
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar, sodium and saturated fat.
- Make sure your children eat breakfast! This is the most important meal of the day.
- Make favourite dishes healthier. Some of your favourite recipes can be healthier with a few changes (such as reducing the fat content, replacing certain ingredients with healthier alternatives, reduction of sodium, etc). You can also try some new heart-healthy dishes that might just become favourites too!
- Remove calorie-rich temptations. Treats are OK in moderation, but limiting high-fat and high-sugar or salty snacks can also help your children develop healthy eating habits. Here are examples of easy-to-prepare, low-fat and low-sugar treats:
- A medium-size apple
- A medium-size banana
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 cup carrots, broccoli, or bell peppers with 2 tbsp. hummus
- Help your kids understand the benefits of being physically active. Teach them that physical activity has great health benefits like:
- Strengthening bones
- Decreasing blood pressure
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Increasing self-esteem
- Helping with weight management
- Help kids stay active. Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week, and every day if possible. You can set a great example! Start adding physical activity to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you. Some examples of moderate-intensity physical activity include:
- Brisk walking
- Playing tag
- Jumping rope
- Playing soccer
- Reduce sedentary time. Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit “screen time” (TV, video games, Internet) to no more than two hours a day. The American Academy of Paediatrics doesn’t recommend TV for kids aged 2 or younger. Encourage your children to find fun activities to do with family members or on their own that simply involve more activity.
Being healthy is supposed to be fun. Make sure you encourage without forcing and motivate without too much reward (ensure rewards are not food-based), this should become a habit and part of their everyday life not a chore.
This content was provided by FUTURELIFE®