Prevent Childhood Obesity to Ensure Healthy Kids
Up until not that long ago, having a pudgy child was socially viewed as a symbol of health. So much so that mothers of skinny children were criticized as bad parents. With the advancement of scientific knowledge, this perspective has changed. Now we’re more aware that childhood obesity is not a sign of present or future health. Nor is it a sign of a family having more resources to feed their children or that the children receive more attention and care.
But it can be hard to have your child maintain a normal weight. What steps can be taken to ensure they stay healthy?
“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.”
The psychological effects of childhood obesity
We all know that obesity is associated with many other health problems. Children are not exempt from the dangers that can come from having a high body mass index. They could develop illnesses like type II diabetes and high cholesterol.
“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.”
But when people talk about the negative consequences of obesity, they rarely consider the associated emotional and psychological problems. Overweight children can develop a low self-esteem and a poor body image.
It’s also important to point out that society generally views people who are overweight as unworthy of success and popularity, even children. This can lead to anxiety, depressive disorders, and many others. It can also lead to the development of eating disorders later in life.
What can you do to help your overweight child?
As we all know, poor nutrition is the main cause of childhood obesity. But there are other psychological and lifestyle factors that are also important to consider when trying to keep your child at a healthy weight.
In this regard, keep in mind that many people use food as a way to reduce emotional distress. Not only do they eat more when they’re upset, but they also eat more unhealthy foods. If this becomes a habit, it can turn into a vicious cycle.
When a child eats because they’re upset, the negative emotions disappear momentarily, but doing so continuously will lead to weight gain, which will cause more distress. And how will the child try to manage this situation? By eating more. See where this is going?
Apart from using food as a way to regulate emotions, there are other daily habits that influence weight gain. Eating alone, eating too many sweets, skipping breakfast, sleeping too little, spending too much time in front of the television, and not getting enough exercise are a few examples of such harmful habits.
How can we combat childhood obesity?
What can we do to prevent childhood obesity? The first step is to establish rules in the home that promote healthy habits. For example, they should eat five meals a day, and start each day with dairy, whole grains, and fruit.
“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”
At the very least, meals should should be eaten with the whole family together. It’s very important for parents and children to eat from every food group. Parents serve as a role model for their children.
Try not to use food as a way to alleviate the child’s boredom or sadness if you want to avoid the vicious cycle we mentioned earlier. The consumption of sweets should also be limited. Also, children should have a set time to go to bed, so that they can get at least 10 hours of sleep.
Now let’s talk about technology. To prevent children from leading a sedentary lifestyle, limit their screen time. To stay healthy, both physically and mentally, it’s very important for children to avoid technology and do a physical activity, such as taking a walk, going to the park, or playing a sport. Let’s all promote healthy weight and a healthy lifestyle with our children!
Images courtesy of Kelly Sikkema, Annie Spratt and Caroline Hernandez.