obesity in children And ways to deal with it!!

Obesity in children is no more an unfamiliar word. It has its roots in almost every household now. And the statistics are alarming; 1 out of every 3 children in America is obese. Obesity has become a major cause of concern among parents. It is associated with not only apparent body fat but also a gamut of associated health risks.

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What really causes obesity in children?

A lot of factors can cause obesity among children. Although reasons vary from child to child, the most common are bad lifestyle, erratic eating habits, stress and heredity. Sometimes medication is also known to cause weight gain in children.

How does obesity affect your child?
Obesity not only affects a child’s health but also his/her psychology in the long run. It is linked to a number of health risks in children such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and increased cholesterol levels to name a few. It makes a child prone to diseases by wreaking havoc on his/her immune system .Obese children have reduced metabolic rates, often feel lethargic and get easily fatigued. Obesity may also lead to depression in children who in turn develop a negative body image and inferiority complex. It is important here to note that obesity and bad eating habits form a vicious circle. Obese children often become reclusive and find consolation in food consequently adding fuel to the fire.

How to know if your child is obese? 
Since there is a thin line between carrying some extra pounds and being obese, parents often mistake one for the other. Apart from the physical tell tales, Body Mass Index (B.M.I.) is the most important tool for detecting obesity in children. B.M.I. is the easiest way to know if your child is healthy, overweight or obese. An online B.M.I. calculator eliminates the entire math from the equation. All one needs to do is punch in the child’s weight and height and the B.M.I. is displayed at the press of a button. Such websites also provide tables indicating the range in which the B.M.I. falls. So it would hardly take one not more than five minutes to check upon the status of their children. The use of B.M.I. comes with an important caveat: B.M.I. calculator for children is different from that for adults and both cannot be used interchangeably.

How to solve the problem of obesity in children?

An obese child struggles in performing his day-to-day activities. He also deals with emotional crisis. Treating obesity in children is a long term process so, it becomes imperative for parents to deal patiently with their child. There are, however, effective ways to tackle obesity.

1. All work and no play makes jack a dull boy:
This old adage has become more relevant in contemporary times. Children often shy away from any form of exercise, especially with their Play Stations and X-boxes keeping the children glued to their couch. Planning a weekend getaway with your children, taking them trekking, cycling, hiking or swimming to a nearby river, could help them inculcate the concept of exercise into their lives in a fun way. Make them sweat. After all it is just fat weeping.

2. Fix their eating habits:
Losing weight is all about striking the right balance between eating right and exercising, the former being of greater importance. It is 70% diet and 30% exercise that help one in achieving the desired results. So, a diet chart is must. Since every child has different dietary requirements hence, it a best to consult a certified dietitian or a nutritionist for a customized diet plan for the child. One should be aware of the fact that eating habits cannot be changed overnight and if drastic changes are brought about too soon then there are high chances of the child giving up altogether. Man resists change, it is instinctive and child is the father of man. Children make faces looking at green vegetables, but patience is the key. They eventually do come around. Fresh vegetables, greens and fruits are packed with antioxidants, iron and minerals; legumes, cottage cheese and whole grains are full of protein which aid weight loss and boost muscle development and recovery. But cooking them in the same style everyday would make eating a mundane affair and the child would lose interest. A lot of recipes are available on the internet that incorporate all such healthy stuff while being tasty at the same time. Also, let your child have a cheat meal day once a week.

3. Be their role model:
The children follow the footsteps of their parents. There is no denying the fact that adults too have a soft corner for junk food. One would not be mistaken in saying that it is parents who introduce children to this horrendous world of junk. So on the road to reform; one may start by sanitizing the house clear off junk food. I deliberately used the word “house” instead of kitchen. All the secret stashes of goodies have to go. In order to make the child go the healthy way, you have to set an example. Try eating healthy for starters. Children are experts at the imitation game, all you need to do is to give them something to emulate.

4. Counsel your child:
Trying to shed those extra pounds can be excruciatingly stressful. While on the journey, the child may experience a lot of physical and emotional struggles. At times, the child may feel low and dejected. During such crisis, parents should treat them with empathy. Hence, the parents need to constantly guide their children and help them deal with their lows. Remember, every child comes with a label “FRAGILE! Handle with care!”

5. Reward them:
It is difficult to make a child understand the need of giving up junk food and to follow a strict diet and exercise regimen. You should make small goals for the child and reward them once they reach it. Rewarding them with small things that they like will help push and encourage them to go that extra mile. Appreciation boots their morale. Don’t let them give up!!

6. Consult a doctor:
As mentioned above, obesity in children leads to a number of health issues. It is best to visit a doctor and get a complete health check-up of your child so that obesity related issues can be identified and resolved well in time.

7. Fitness is not a destination, it is a perpetual journey:
Achieving the desired weight sure marks an end to the weight loss journey but keeping it from coming back is equally important and is a lifelong process. Parents should focus on bringing about lifelong altering adjustments in their children like good eating habits; minimizing binge eating; exercising; regular sleep cycle and proper hydration. The child must be encouraged to make fitness a way of life for their overall well being.