How to Combat the Epidemic of Childhood Obesity?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 17% of the children and adolescents in the US are obese. Sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits explain the nearly threefold increase in childhood obesity rates now as compared to just one generation ago.

As video games, tablets, the internet and other means of technology continue to dominate daily activities, children tend to be less active. This contributes immensely to child obesity. However, by making certain lifestyle changes, obese kids can shed the unnecessary pounds. Here are some of the ways of vanquishing obesity in your child:

Eating Healthy

Image: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In addition to lack of leading an active life, an unhealthy diet also plays a huge role in stoking child obesity. Some pointers that can make your child’s diet more wholesome are:

  • Eating breakfast. Those who have breakfast have lesser propensity to gain weight than those who miss breakfast. Eating breakfast is known to jumpstart a person’s metabolism and people who have breakfast tend to consume lesser calories throughout the day than those who skip this extremely important meal of the day, as “Intake in the morning is particularly satiating”, according to Dr de Castro’s research.
     
  • Cutting Down Fried, Starchy and Sugary Foods. Banishing fried, starchy and sugary foods can effectively contribute to weight loss. Both white rice and white flour have high starch content which not only negatively impact metabolism, but also have more calories. Instead, load up on whole wheat flour and brown rice. Replace potatoes with other vegetables which have lower starch content such as cucumbers, broccoli, peppers, zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, artichokes, and cabbage.


     

  • Getting Protein from the Right Sources. Protein is a very important part of a healthy diet because it leaves a person feeling sated quicker. However, it is important to find the right sources of proteins. Ideal protein sources include lean meats, skinless chicken, beans, legumes, tofu, and fish.
     
  • Low-Fat or Non-Fat Dairy. While dairy products are essential to a balanced diet, they can also be high in calories and fat. Replace whole milk with skimmed or 1% milk.
     
  • Beware of Fat Free Products. Many a time low fat or fat free products have just as many calories as the fatty versions because the manufacturers just replace the fat with high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener associated with body fat gain according to Princeton researchers. For example, many low fat or fat free yogurts have high calorie content due to excess sugar. Remember, if your body doesn’t burn off sugar, the unburned sugar turns to fat, so beware of these products.

Making Exercising a Part of Life

Encouraging your child to live a more active life is also an important element of losing weight. Here are some tips:

  • Play Outside. Kids who stay indoors tend to be less active than those who play outside. Encourage your child to pick up a ball and play outdoors. Join your kid in the fun too!
     
  • Dance! Turn up the volume and spend 15-30 minutes cutting loose with your kid. No skills are required, just get up and move!
     
  • Interactive Video Games. If you can’t wean your child off his/her video game addiction, then you can switch to an interactive game. Choose an aerobic or a dance game to burn off the calories.
     
  • Make Fitness Fun! Your child shouldn’t feel that being active is a chore. Instead, teach your child that leading an active life is fun and improves one’s overall quality of life.
     
  • Walk. Park at the end of the parking lot, take the stairs, and walk to a nearby grocery store. Teach your child that even these small things contribute to overall health.

If your child has tried and failed at a number of diets and exercise regimens, you must take a closer look into what is going wrong.

Don’t let your child become too comfortable in a fat body, because if he is ready to settle in it, he will never make an effort to move and bring it back to health. Later in life, when it becomes too difficult to carry all that excess weight, he will be scouting for bariatric surgeries. And if they are beyond the financial means, it would mean you have to go looking for gastric sleeve in Mexico, India or Thailand.

A lap band surgery in Mexico, or gastric bypass in India, may seem a lot easier than having to maintain a healthy lifestyle for so many years, but one must be aware that bariatric surgery as a solution to combat pediatric obesity is a debatable one.

According to a study titled Pediatric Obesity: Etiology and Treatment by MK Crocker and JA Yanovski published in the October 2011 edition of the journal of the Pediatric Clinics of North America, out of all the methods of losing weight, bariatric surgeries are the most efficient but because of their potential risks, these surgeries should be earmarked only for those with substantial complications of obesity. The lap band system for those less than 18 years of age is yet to receive a nod from the US Food and Drug Administration.

The Importance of Losing Weight

Helping your child lose excessive weight is imperative to a healthy life. Suffering from obesity at any stage of life leads to further health complications which are not only emotionally and physically straining, but also financially enervating. Your child runs the risk of lifelong health problems if he/she continues to be obese. Rather than allowing your child live in such an unhealthy manner, it is advisable to try and combat pediatric obesity to set the stage for a healthy adult life. Help your child obtain better mental, physical and emotional health by fighting childhood obesity.

Author bio: Dr. Deepika Garg – Dentist, an internet enthusiast, who has been involved with web content creation for over 5 years. She is the Chief Editor at Bariatric Surgery World.

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