So, your child is overweight. He is chubby and fat. And all he ever does when he is not studying or sleeping, is to sit on the couch and munch on those fattening chips and snacks. He loves to eat and you often find it difficult to voice your concerns or to stop him from eating too much. All the more, you fear you would damage his self esteem by calling undue attention to his weight. So, then what do you do?
Well, firstly take solace in the fact that your kid is not the only one who is overweight. According to The American National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey about a third of all children and teens are overweight and 16 per cent are obese.
But then as a parent how do you manage your obese kid and keep him from gaining more weight?
To begin with, you need to quickly understand as to what are the main reasons for obesity, so as to be able to manage it better. The most commonly found causes of obesity in children aged between 7 to 15 years include the numerous advertisements of burgers and chips and different fattening foods, both on television as well as on the web, various video games and play stations that keep the child from venturing out to play outdoor games, and also lesser physical education in schools.
Moreover, what is worrisome is the fact that obesity in childhood can in turn lead to various diseases and health risks in adulthood. So, a proactive approach by parents becomes the need of the hour....
At such times, Parents, this is what you can do:
- Change your goal: Your first goal in getting kids to a more healthy body weight, should not be weight loss. Instead, the usual recommendation is for kids to just stop gaining weight, and then, as they get taller, they can 'grow into' their own weight.
- Use the ‘5-2-1-0’ formula: The American Academy of Paediatrics suggests that parents follow the ‘5-2-1-0’ formula which indicates 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, two hours of screen time ( including TV, Computer and video games), 1 hour of physical activity and no sweetened beverages.
- Build up interest: By way of interesting variations in healthy foods, children must be made to believe that healthy foods, can be much more rewarding than junk foods, both taste wise and health wise. For instance, if the child is averse to milk and milk products, he should be given interesting variations, including milkshakes and smoothies, different combinations of fruit juices so that he lessens the intake of carbonated drinks, etc
- Check their Diet: Overweight children must be given healthy foods that are high in fiber content and low on fats. Too much of cheese, butter and ghee will not help in weight loss and will only aggravate the problem. Plenty of green vegetables, fresh fruits and salads, nuts, fermented foods including idlis and dosas etc must form their diet. Homemade food serves overweight children better than food from outside.
- Set a schedule: Parents must ensure that the child has his schedule chalked out in such a way, that he gets 60 minutes daily for outdoor games that keep him on his toes, makes him sweat and keep him mentally and physically alert.
Some “more very interesting” ideas for parents:
On the move: Parents can do much more to ensure that the child keeps him/her self physically active. For instance, sending the child to buy some small things from the market, parking the vehicle at a distance from the mall entrance and walking it up, taking the staircase instead of the elevator wherever possible, are ways in which your child will remain physically active and overweight will no longer be a problem.
Make it a part of their routine: Children must be made used to a “healthy lifestyle” since childhood, and it must form a part of their routine. All the more, overweight children must be talked to, about the importance of being healthy and fit, but this should be done in a way that they do not feel singled out.
Give away Rewards: Set challenges and reward kids for the extra activity they do on a particular day, or for that glass of milk they finish.
Games: Kids must indulge in activities that they enjoy, for instance, kids enjoy dancing, swimming, lawn tennis etc and consider them to be games, not exercises.
So parents, we are sure, once you make “healthy lifestyle” a part of your chubby kid’s routine, managing his/her weight will become much easier. However, if the problem persists, doctor consultation should be done on an immediate basis.