Childhood Obesity Prevention
Every parent wants to see their children live a good and happy life, but it comes with it’s challenges. Obesity in the United States and across the globe has been climbing and is projected
to continue to do so. And while many parents don’t like it, they may have children who struggle with being overweight or obese. Children do not have control over what is bought and given to them to eat. So it is up to the adults to learn how to best instill healthy lifestyle and diet habits in children. The earlier that a child who struggles with their weight is treated, the better their outcome will be and the greater the chance of reducing childhood obesity rates.
What Causes Obesity in Children?
Just as with adults, there are a variety of factors that can cause childhood obesity. Some of these causes include:
- Genetic factors
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy eating habits
- Lack of good food options
When a child is born into a family that has a history of being overweight or obese it is possible that they will have an inherited risk of being overweight. However, in many cases, it is possible that they only really struggle due to the learned habits that lead to the issue. This is why it is important that the parents and any adults in that child’s life do what they can to ensure healthy habits and food options are made available and emphasized.
Risks of Obesity
Obesity has several health related risks for both children and adults such as:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Bone problems
- Skin conditions
- High cholesterol
If Your Child is Obese
If you have a child who does in fact struggle with their weight, it is important that you treat them kindly and with love. Studies have shown that when a child is made to feel bad about being overweight and it is pointed out, they are prone to struggling with it even further. Any child, whether overweight or at an ideal weight, deserves to be treated just the same and it is not recommended that they be alienated.
Some good ways to help them are to in fact gradually introduce them to healthier habits and foods in a manner that are fun for them. By adding these healthy alternatives to previously learned behaviors in a way that relates to their desires and passions, you help them feel good about doing such healthy activities. When you have somebody commit an act at a time that their mood is boosted and they feel good, their brain connects that act with the emotion of being happy. This works just the same with negative emotions which is why you want to avoid making them feel bad or looked down on.
Get the Family Involved
Children are greatly influenced by their surroundings and the people around them. So aside from getting them into healthy habits, it is recommended that these habits be led by example.
Activities, meals, and plans such as reducing time watching TV are much more useful when followed by all members of the family. When a child sees that they are part of a group activity and not being expected to behave differently as though they have a problem, they will feel much more excited and like it is just a standard activity. So in other words, don’t make being healthy a chore so much as just a way for the whole family to be more active.
Some fun family activities that you can do include:
- Cooking together: You can assign tasks to each family member and make it a fun time for everyone. You could, for example, put on a song they like, let
them play with the food, have a race to see who finishes their task first.
- Have Social Events and Get Active: Invite your friends or friends of theirs over to enjoy some healthy foods and activities such as baseball, swimming, or a
- Get the Family Involved in Sports: Get them involved in martial arts, little league, or any activity that they prove to become passionate about and support them. Maybe watch them take a dance class and cheer them on. This will help them to feel that you care about them doing what they are passionate about as well as get them in the habit of being active.
It’s a Lifestyle Not a Short-Term Fix
Remember that being more active and eating well are a lifestyle choice and not a temporary fix. A steady intake of healthy foods, water, and vitamins paired with regular exercise are great habits that should be followed all throughout childhood and adulthood. Many who are not taught these healthy habits do failed diets and bounce back to what is comfortable, causing yo-yo dieting and other health related issues.
Invest Your Time as Parents
An excellent way to encourage a happy and healthy child, in general, is to invest your time. This does not promote just healthy eating and lifestyle habits alone but in fact, a way to potentially boost their performance academically and socially.
One real example of this:
A single mother struggled to get her son to behave in school and he frequently fought her authority and acted out at home. She in fact had several children and so giving him the attention he needed proved to be difficult. His acting out was in fact because he was not being given care and felt ignored. She then began to show more attention by placing him in martial arts classes. Just within months of his taking martial arts lessons and her sitting in to watch, the son began to behave much differently. His grades went up and he became an honor student, he was more cooperative at home, and he also lost weight. But what’s great about this example, is that the entire experience was about him being able to do an activity that he is passionate about. The weight loss was merely an added benefit that wasn’t talked about or a predetermined factor in making the decision.
As he grew into his later teenage years, the family decided to all go to the gym together and eat healthier. Again, he lost even more weight and even got complements about his level of fitness from physical education instructors and fellow students.
What is more important about this example, however, is the fact that all of the activities were done for fun and they in fact set in place great habits which that child stuck with far into his adulthood. He’d in fact keep a regular gym membership, cook healthy meals for himself, and always study new facts about health and nutrition. But at the same time he knew how to have fun with it and not be too strict or hard on himself.
It’s Never Too Late to Shape a Better Future
No matter what state your family is in, it is never too late to develop new habits and have a new life. The body has an amazing way of renewing itself as dead cells are replaced with new ones. By taking on a new outlook on life and living a healthier, more active lifestyle, one can in fact begin to feel, look, and physically become more youthful.
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