If you are among those worried parents, who think their child is overweight or obese, do not panic! Here are some dietary tips and tricks to help reduce your child’s excess weight.
By Priya Kathpal
A popular children’s rhyme, ‘Chubby Cheeks, Dimple Chin...’ reminds me of my neighbour’s son who was a cute, chubby baby at birth. Even at five years, the cutie pie had not lost his chubby baby fat. The family kept saying “he’s a healthy boy” and ignored a big problem that was ahead of them–childhood obesity. If your child is overweight and you realise it’s time to take charge of things to help your child, this article can show you just how to do so.
Childhood obesity is a condition in which a child is significantly overweight for his or her age and height. Being overweight can pose serious health hazards in the long-run.
In general, children and adolescents who are overweight or obese are most likely to be obese as adults. Obesity in the early years of life can lead to the development of non-communicable diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in adulthood. A lot of other health problems like bone and joint troubles, sleep apnoea and cancers may arise too. Psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, low self-esteem and social problems like bullying and stigmatisation may start at a very young age. Parents must understand the underlying causes and seek medical help, if necessary.
The concerns about your child's growth can give you sleepless nights, especially when comparisons are made between children of the same age. It is recommended that you check the Indian Academy of Paediatrics Height and Weight Charts for boys and for girls as a guide and monitor their child’s growth on a regular basis. Maintaining a pattern chart will help track any developmental issues before it’s too late. According to the IAP standards, a five-year-old boy needs to be in the weight range of 16–19 kgs and for a five-year-old girl the ideal weight range is between 15–18 kgs. Body weight more than the recommended range is an indicator of obesity.
The main factors that cause obesity in children are unhealthy dietary habits and reduced physical activity. Heredity too has a vital role to play. Parents need to answer the following questions to know exactly what makes their child overweight.
The answers to these questions will give you an idea about what you need to change in your child’s lifestyle. If most of your answers are a ‘yes’, then it’s time to sit up and take action.
'Prevention is Better than Cure' is surely the best fitness mantra to control the growing problem of childhood obesity. Obesity is a multifaceted problem and to reverse it, family and community efforts need to be focused on healthy eating and active living. The calories taken in through food and beverages need to be balanced with the calories used in physical activity and normal growth. The crucial point to note here is that overweight children need to slow down on the rate at which they are gaining weight without affecting their normal growth and development. For this, you should consult a qualified nutritionist for personalised solutions.
Here are a few general tips to help your child fight obesity:
Achieving and maintaining an appropriate body weight is crucial especially during childhood to avoid lifetime repercussions. Focus on small and permanent changes in eating habits for a gradual and sustainable weight loss. Make sure your child adopts a healthy and balanced lifestyle consisting of physical exercise and playtime, small and frequent meals that are healthy, tasty and nutritious to support your child's growth needs.
Let us know in the comments section below if you have more suggestions for parents of overweight children. Let's fight obesity together!
The author is a nutritionist and founder of Nutrify.
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