Over the past few years, how to avoid childhood obesity has become an important public health issue. According to the WHO, the global number of obese children increased nearly 5 times between 1978 and 2016.
Since obesity has a serious impact on a child’s health, many parents want to know how to avoid childhood obesity. Let’s look at how this can be achieved.
What are the effects of childhood obesity
Excess weight and obesity are known risk factors for several health conditions, from heart disease to diabetes. In children, the health risks are just as serious.
The main health effects of childhood obesity include:
- Children developing diseases that don’t correspond to their age, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels.
- Fatty liver disease, a condition that can progress to cirrhosis and liver cancer in 2% to 10% of cases.
- Breathing problems, like low lung function. Obesity can also trigger asthma or worsen the symptoms.
- Sleeping disorders like obstructive sleep apnea. This condition itself is linked to other complications, like mood disorders, memory and attention problems, and an increased risk of heart failure.
- Pain in the back, neck, bones, and joints, due to the extra weight the body has to support. Pain can limit the amount of time a child spends being active, and contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which only worsens obesity.
In addition, obese children are especially vulnerable to mental health problems. These children are more likely to be bullied, which creates problems like low self-esteem, a tendency towards social isolation, stress, and depression.
What can be done about childhood obesity prevention?
To prevent childhood obesity, the first step is understanding what causes it. This can help make the necessary lifestyle changes and switch to healthier living patterns in the household.
Let’s look at the 3 main causes of childhood obesity.
A poor diet
This is the most determining cause of childhood obesity. Unsurprisingly, children who frequently eat processed or frozen meals, or who have daily access to junk food, are the most likely to be obese.
The same applies to consuming sodas and sugary drinks as a habit, and to snacking on sweets or high-calorie foods.
Here, the prevention strategy involves creating a healthy meal plan and researching alternatives to high-calorie snacks (wholegrain cereal, hummus, fruits and berries, low-fat yogurt, etc.).
It’s also important to serve adequate portions, and to set targets for drinking water instead of sodas (you could even turn this into a friendly family competition).
Limited physical activity
Many children today have unlimited access to technology. In some cases, this causes them to replace real-world physical activity with on-screen time.
This is linked to a higher risk of obesity because children are more likely to eat mindlessly or snack when they use screens. But primarily, the lack of exercise itself causes weight gain, as kids aren’t burning as many calories as they consume.
To prevent obesity, parents should plan leisure and family time around physical activity, like going on hikes, bike rides, or simply walking instead of taking the car. Also, make sure to set limits to technology use.
The type of environment a child lives in plays a crucial role in their overall health. For example, children who live with overweight or obese parents may be more likely to become obese themselves, as high-calorie foods are always available.
Here, prevention strategies revolve around being good models for children. When children perceive their parents enthusiasm for healthy living, they’re more likely to imitate them and develop positive habits.
Extra tips on how to avoid childhood obesity
- Don’t reward children with snacks or junk food.
- Take meal times seriously to transmit the idea that meal schedules are important.
- Encourage children to help cooking healthy meals.
- Monitor your child’s emotional health.
- Ensure your children get enough sleep.
Learning how to avoid childhood obesity can greatly improve your kid’s health and quality of life, now and in the future. You can get started today with the tips in this article. For more information, you can visit our website and learn about Spatz3 adjustable gastric balloon.