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Childhood Obesity: A Little Extra Chubbiness Is A Tell-tale Sign Of Obesity

Tell-tale Sign Of Childhood Obesity

 

Traditionally, we tend to think of chubby babies as being cute and normal; however, with increasing research, we know that childhood obesity is a real issue with various potential health problems. Being obese as a child has been correlated with health conditions later in life, with several of these conditions happening earlier in life.

 

Some of these health issues are inevitable!

 

1. Heart disease – Heart disease is related to obesity due to high cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. It has been researched that more than half of obese children have at least one of the above cardiovascular disease risk factor. Type 2 diabetes is an instance of health condition related to obesity that is increasingly seen earlier in life. Another condition seen in obese children is hyperlipidemia which is the presence of excess cholesterol in the blood.

 

2. Asthma – Asthma is a lung condition in which the narrowed or blocked airways cause breathing difficulty. Studies have shown correlation between obesity and asthma. General shortness of breath can also make sports or physical activity difficult for the child.

 

3. Sleep apnea – Sleep apnea is a sleep-associated breathing condition where breathing stopped temporarily during sleep. This is characterized by loud snoring and labored breathing, and also more prevalent in overweight children.

 

4. Hepatic steatosis – Hepatic steatosis is the fatty degeneration of the liver due to high concentration of liver enzymes, which are correlated with increased weight.

 

5. Other health conditions – Conditions related to bone, early puberty and gastrointestinal issues are also seen in obese children.

 

6. Social-emotional conditions – Social issues are often encountered by obese children, as they may be discriminated against, bullied or teased by their peers. The constant teasing over the years can lead to low self-esteem which in turn affect learning and causes behavioral and emotional issues. Obese children are also at higher risk of eating disorders and more prone to depression.

 

While some of the above conditions may happen only later in life, in general, it has been researched that overweight children have higher healthcare cost and more likely to be admitted to hospital compared to normal weight children. Given the health and social issues that come with obesity, it is important that parents play a part to help fight childhood obesity.

 

Here are 5 tips to help fight childhood obesity!

 

#1 Reduce sugar, trans fats and processed foods

 

Diet plays an important role in keeping off the excess weight, and it is a lifestyle decision. For instance, choose fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods, snacks and instant beverage mix that are high in sugar. Cut down on cookies, crackers, pre-cooked meals and limit the consumption of high salt, fat or sugar food items.

 

#2 Reduce opportunities for overeating

 

Overeating may not be deliberate; for instance, sitting in front of TV, getting served large portion sizes can easily cause overeating. Therefore, reduce portion size and try to have family meals at dining table without the TV.

 

#3 Don’t skip breakfast

 

Breakfast is important as it provides the necessary carbohydrates to maintain blood sugar levels and prevent hunger in the morning and overeating later in the day. Eating more frequently (healthy snack in small portion) may also help prevent overeating during meal time.

 

#4 Increase energy output

 

While watching what you eat is important, how much calories you burn is also important. Moreover, outdoor play is positively related not just to weight management, but also recommended for eye protection (less screen time) and brain function. Children should engage in moderate to intensive activity for at least an hour per day – it is important to make these fun for children.

 

#5 Don’t make food a reward

 

Foods should not be used as a reward – it is acceptable to consume the occasional cake, cookie or chips; however, it should not be seen as a treat. Such mindset may lead to the child using foods to comfort himself.

 

What if your child is already obese? The recommended approach is not to criticize your child and demand that he or she goes on a diet – instead, it is to slow the progress of weight gain, allowing the height to “catch up” with the weight.

 

childhood obesity

 

Here are 5 tips to help your child reach and maintain a healthy weight!

 

#1 Healthy diet

 

Examine the type of foods you keep at home, and what the whole family is eating. It is best to have the whole family on board for healthy eating – cut down junk food, sweet desserts, sweetened beverages and portion size. Parents, especially, should be a role model. The benefit of having everyone on board is that the overweight child will not feel singled out.

 

#2 Be open, but not negative

 

It is recommended not to engage in negative talk about body weight. However, parents should not veer to the extreme of letting the child believe that it is appropriate to stay overweight.

 

#3 Active lifestyle

 

If your child is already obese, try finding out what physical activity he enjoys and have the family on board with it. It doesn’t have to be a sport like running or gymnastics, it can be anything that involves movement! For instance, bursting bubbles in a park and running around a little bit to burst the very last bubble. Or it can be jumping on a trampoline.

 

#4 Goal setting

 

You may want to set some form of goals with your child, for instance, the physically active minutes accumulated in a week. it can even be in the form of friendly competition of who walk the most in a week, or keep the balloon in the air for the longest time.

 

#5 Enough sleep

 

If your child doesn’t sleep well, or sleep too late, he may end up eating more at night or his mood is affected and he ended up reaching for sweet treats. While the reasons are not clear, there is a correlation between fewer hours of sleep and higher risk of obesity. The general guideline for sleep hours is 12 to 14 hours for 1-3 years old, 11 to 13 hours for 3-5 years old and 10 to 11 hours for 5-12 years old.

 

While weight alone is not equivalent to a health condition, many health conditions are related to being overweight. Try to have the whole family on board for a healthy diet and lifestyle, and if the child keeps gaining weight faster than he is growing taller, you can consider seeing a doctor to find out if there are other health conditions that lead to the weight gain.

 

Written by Mei

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