Fitness

Combating obesity in your child

Sketch of a child on the weighing machine   | Photo Credit: 10dmcwellness1

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because it may lead to diseases such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression. Your child’s doctor will consider your child’s history of growth and development, your family’s weight-for-height history and where your child lands on the growth charts. This can help determine if your child’s weight is in an unhealthy range. Childhood obesity can have complications for your child’s physical, social and emotional well-being.

Combating Obesity:Treatment for childhood obesity is based on your child’s age and if he or she has other medical conditions. Treatment usually includes changes in your child's diet and level of physical activity. In certain circumstances, treatment may include medications or weight-loss surgery.

Diet: Children ages 6-11 who are obese may be put on a diet for gradual weight loss of no more than 1 pound a month. Older children and adolescents who are obese or severely obese may be put on a diet that aims for weight loss of up to 2 pounds (or about 1 kilogram) a week. The methods for maintaining your child’s current weight or losing weight are the same. Your child needs to eat a healthy diet – both in terms of type and amount of food. Success depends largely on your commitment to helping your child make these changes.

Parents are the ones who buy groceries, cook meals and decide where the food is eaten. Even small changes can make a big difference in your child’s health.

Food shopping: Cut back on convenience foods – cookies, crackers and prepared meals – which are often high in sugar, fat and calories. Always have healthy snacks available and buy groceries. Limit sweetened beverages. This includes those that contain fruit juice. These drinks provide little nutritional value in exchange for their high calories. They also can make your child feel too full to eat healthier foods. Also limit fast food.

Family meals: Make it an event – a time to share news and tell stories. Discourage eating in front of a screen – such as a TV, computer or video game – which can lead to fast eating and lowered awareness of how much you are eating.

Physical activity: A critical part of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, especially for children, is physical activity. It not only burns calories but also builds strong bones and muscles and helps children sleep well at night and stay alert during the day. Good habits established in childhood help adolescents maintain healthy weight despite the hormonal changes, rapid growth and social influences that often lead to overeating. And active children are more likely to become fit adults.

Limit TV: A good way to increase your child’s activity levels is to limit the number of hours he or she is allowed to watch TV each day. Other sedentary activities – playing video and computer games or talking on the phone – should also be limited.

New activities: If your child is artistically inclined, plan a nature hike to collect leaves and rocks that your child can use to make a collage. If your child likes to climb, head to the nearest neighbourhood jungle gym or climbing wall. If your child likes to read, then walk or bike to the neighbourhood library for a book.

Medications: In some situations, medication may be prescribed for adolescents as part of an overall weight loss plan. Homoeopathy has such medication but which one depends on the whole child’s symptoms pattern.

Take advantage of every opportunity to build your child’s self-esteem. Don’t be afraid to bring up the topic of health and fitness but do be sensitive that a child may view your concern as an insult. Talk to your kids directly, openly, and without being critical or judgemental.

(The author is senior homeopath and psychologist Agrawal Homeo Clinic)

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 12:32:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/fitness/wellness-combating-obesity-in-your-child/article7633646.ece

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