Is it possible to prevent obesity in children? In this article on childhood obesity and parental duties, we will find out more on what parents should do to prevent their children from becoming obese.
It is only when you become a parent that you understand how challenging the task of parenting is. Right from the time you bring your baby home, till he/she becomes intelligent enough to understand the complexities of life, and has the ability to make the right choices, it is the parents who have to care for them, and inculcate values so that the child can develop into a physically and emotionally healthy adult. While small health issues may arise, the child could inherit genes that may predispose him/her to some medical conditions, or may develop certain diseases due to lack of care.
For instance, a child might be genetically predisposed to obesity. The tendency to put on weight could also be linked to poor dietary habits. If you ever go through statistics on childhood obesity, you will see that children grappling with the serious problem of obesity are highly susceptible to developing serious cardiovascular diseases and other ailments. Here, we will try to find out how right parenting can help in lowering the risk of obesity in children.
Causes of Childhood Obesity
During the early childhood years, plump children may appear to be irresistible, however, with time, when such children grow into obese adolescents or adults, obesity would start affecting their psychological health as well. So, what causes obesity in children? Well, genetics, environmental influences and dietary habits emerge as the main contributory factors for obesity in children.
Consumption of fast foods is one of the bad lifestyle choices that puts children as well as adults in the high-risk group for obesity. Consumption of processed foods that contain high levels of trans fat and saturated fatty acids, along with other unhealthy additives, is certainly one of the most common causes of obesity in children.
However, mouth-watering these foods may be, these are capable of causing a lot of damage to the organ systems of the body. Since these are delicious, children end up eating portions that are larger than the body’s needs, thereby putting the digestive system under a lot of stress. These days, children don’t spend as much time playing outdoor sports. Most of their time is spent in playing video games or watching television indoors.
Over time, when children continue to consume a high calorie diet, the calories that are not burnt due to the sedentary lifestyle they lead, keep depositing in the form of layers of adipose tissue. As mentioned earlier, children could also be genetically predisposed. While you cannot change the fact that you might be in a high-risk group due to the inherited genes, you can compensate by making the right lifestyle choices. This is where the role of parents comes into picture. It is the responsibility of the parents to inculcate the right habits in their children.
Childhood Obesity and Parental Duties
Though we live in a competitive world, and there might be a lot on the mind of parents, there’s a great need to spend time with children, and watch what they eat. Young children are impressionable, and thus, parents must inculcate healthy eating habits during the early formative years. Though fast food joints might be located in every nook and corner, children may want to eat junk food when you pass by these food joints, parents must not give in to such demands all the time. There is a great need to educate the children about the importance of a healthy diet, and this education must start at an early age.
Since children are keen observers, parents need to ensure that they set an example themselves. Parents who eat fast food on a regular basis, are definitely setting a bad example. So, preaching without practicing would not really help. Stopping the child from having fast food completely can cause him/her to rebel, so, gradually cut down on the trips to fast food joints. Use healthy oils and fresh ingredients to cook healthy food at home. Don’t store sugary drinks, aerated drinks or unhealthy snacks at home. If you do, children might get tempted into having them behind your back, and the whole purpose of inculcating healthy eating habits would get defeated. While you cut down on sugar-rich or high-fat foods, look for healthier replacements.
There are various other external influences that cannot be ignored. Lack of exercise is another major contributory factor for obesity in children. Children are spending far more time indoors due to the craze for indoor recreational activities. Physical activities are essential for burning calories, and thus, parents must take steps soon. First of all, don’t let the child watch television or play video games for long hours. It is bad for the child’s health. Parents need to ensure that children indulge in sports that help in burning calories. Accompany your child when he/she participates in such events.
Encouraging words or incentives can work wonders. If your child is not really interested in playing sports, you could encourage him/her to go for walks. Activities such as dancing, cycling, swimming and jogging can certainly help in burning those extra calories. Parents should also stay in touch with school teachers, and need to stay well-informed about the child’s behavior and performance in the school. Follow these simple tips on prevention of childhood obesity and you will surely see a great difference.
The physical as well as psychological effects of childhood obesity cannot be undermined. Thus, it is the duty of parents to monitor their child’s eating habits and other lifestyle-related issues. Take an interest in your child’s overall well-being so that he/she can grow into a healthy adult. If you feel that your child seems to be gaining weight at a fast pace, shoulder your responsibility and do what it takes to stop this medical condition from hampering your child’s mental and physical health. You could also consult a doctor or nutritionist to find out about the dietary guidelines that must be followed to prevent your child from becoming obese.