Managing Kids weight

As parents of growing kids we all are constantly worried about the health and well- being of our toddlers or growing kids till they listen to us and we can still influence their food choices. But the current facts and figures from WHO are worrisome and reflect that we are not able to do a good job at that, with alarming increases in Overweight and obese children.

Asia houses 50 % of the world’s obese children & 75 % if we take Africa into account. WHO Reported 41 million obese children under the age of 5 years Kids above 5 years of age and obese would be similarly alarming.

Possible that our kids could be among the counted nos and contributing to the above statistics.

Causes

1.Side effect of globalization and urbanization & children are increasingly being raised in obese genic environments, where fatty foods are the most affordable option or are the only choice for some segments of the society.

2.Urbanization has led to lower or no physical activity for kids growing up today.

3.Some cultures promote overweight child as one that is healthy and is well off. Plump children are not frowned upon and some people even view chubbiness in young children as a sign of good health.

Impact

1.Type-2 diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way child’s body uses sugar (glucose). Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Medical practitioners say that we are seeing younger people getting ischaemic heart disease.

2.Children can develop high blood pressure or high cholesterol due to poor food habits.

3.Children who are overweight or obese may be more likely to have asthma.

4.Symptoms of fatty liver (non- alcoholic) have also been found in obese kids.

5.Children often tease or bully their overweight peers, resulting in loss of self-esteem and can result in depression.

Solutions

1.First, the family needs to acknowledge this a serious problem and needs immediate attention now. Consult a Medical practitioner and a Dietitian on making the right food choices and advise.

2.Obesity is partly genetic and partly created by the environment we live in. Family members have to change/modify their lifestyles and eating habits together as the kids look upon parents and other family members as role models.

3.Engage in physical activity. Parents to participate too in physical activity together.

4.Be aware of the contents of the food that we serve. Good to know what we consume.

5.Reduce snacking of cakes, cookies and sweetened drinks, chips, fried food, burgers etc. As parents let’s show the way by reducing intake of the above.

6.Introduce healthy snack options to the children such as fresh fruits and vegetables with healthy dips(like apple slices, cucumber, carrots, celery sticks with yogurt- mint dip/ guacamole/ fresh salsa).

7.Ensure that fruits and vegetables are part of the daily diet.

8.Nuts are a good source of nutrients and keep us full for a long time.

9.Don’t overfull the plate for children. Ensure only the right portion of the food is served on the plate.

10.Drink adequate glasses of water.

11.Reduce salt intake

This is not to say that we should deprive our kids of our junk food and sweet cravings.

Single scoop of ice cream, one small packet of potato chips, one mid-size serving of Fast food etc. once or twice a week.

It is our responsibility as parents to educate our kids on good food habits and maintain healthy weight and also be role models by following the same.

Meenu Agarwal, Dietitian advises parents on kids weight loss and obesity reduction programs.