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Obesity in children leads to health and social problems

Big, fat kids are considered to be well and better fed, isn’t it? We tend to forget or forego the fact that healthy does not mean being oversized, fat, or even plump for that matter. Always be cautious about the slow and plodding entry of Obesity in your child, as overweight children are more prone to becoming overweight adolescents and adults. Remember, childhood obesity not only has health impact, but it is closely entwined with their emotional quotient.

Childhood Obesity

As a matter of fact, childhood obesity in recent times has doubled in children and has shown fourfold increase in adolescents. It is simply an imbalance of calories, very little depletion of calories as against the amount of calories consumed, and needless to mention, there are various behavioural, genetic and ecological factors that contribute to this as well.

Before we look at how to deal with this devil, it is important for us to know what causes obesity in children.

Along with nutrition and physical activity, family factors do have a major role to play in obesity. If one parent is obese, there is almost a 50% chance of a child becoming obese. If both parents are obese, probability of the child turning obese goes up to 70 to 80%. Having said that, genetic influence alone cannot make a sole impact….. Poor eating habits, overeating, lack of physical activity or exercise and wrong eating patterns at home contribute significantly to this condition.

Studies have shown that children on an average spend approximately four hours every day watching television. We now have an additional punch here, with video games and gadgets making their ample space in our world, which in turn increases the sheer hours of physical inactivity.

A family’s eating patterns are a huge contributor in obesity condition. Overweight parents are usually less concerned about healthy eating habits and their child’s increasing weight. Surprisingly, some consider their overweight child to be their pride. As for them, ‘well fed’ is equivalent to ‘well looked after’.

Talking about genetics, in case of obesity running in the family, parents need to be extra careful, and make healthy food choices for their children.

Needless to say, there are several health costs associated with obesity, in addition to the social and emotional stigma. Obese children are at a risk of several medical conditions, including early heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, weaker bones, diabetes, and much more than we can imagine.

Worse is living the everyday emotional pain, it is heart-breaking. Children as early as five to six years can relate to the negative categorization of being obese. They may initially be reluctant to express their inner feelings, but gradually start to express it with negative intonations, including aggression, extreme behaviours, or the contrast – extreme silence, loner attitude.

Self-esteem in children is as strong as for adults. If your child is obese, he is more likely to compare himself with his thinner peers. This may make him feel ashamed about his body, and lead to lack of self-confidence, leading to a poor academic performance. Bullying, teasing, and keeping names is common for obese children, and at times, it is even difficult for them to make new friends, or even sustain the existing ones. Such emotional turmoil can make them a loner, they start to get emotional comfort in eating or food, this is called ‘emotional eating’.

 

It is essential to conquer obesity situation at an early age. Simple things that you as a parent can do are:

If obesity runs in family – keep a close watch on your child’s diet. Emphasize on the importance of health and nutrition. If need be, disclose the ill effects of not maintaining a healthy diet.

If your child is slightly overweight since a young age – keep a close watch and track the development chart, ensure lots of physical activity gets rolling for him, incorporate diet rules and portions. You should build healthy eating habits for the entire household, so that your child would have no way out. Keep a strict watch on gadget usage and television. Promote sports and outdoor activities. Be a good role model, your child is more likely to follow your footsteps.

If your child is overweight, apart from all of the above, ensure you bring in enough support, encouragement and communication.

All I say is -Identification, prevention, and precaution, especially when your child is young, is a must.

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