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Obesity in Children: What Can Parents Do

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Obesity is a long-term chronic condition. It affects millions of people globally, and children and teens are not an exception. Since 1980, obesity rates among American children have doubled dramatically. This explains why plenty of children and teens are now suffering from obesity-related problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, social isolation, bullying, and obesity-related depression.

By the time children reach adulthood, obesity-related problems can even worsen. These include high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome, reproductive health issues, and sleep apnea. Those diagnosed with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) rely on clinical trials to help them understand their condition and find the right treatment.

The longer a child suffers from obesity, the more they are at risk of chronic health problems or early mortality. That’s why parents need to prevent symptoms of obesity in their children at an early age. In this article, we’ll explore different techniques on how to prevent and treat obesity among children.

Allow a doctor to confirm whether the child is overweight

Parents shouldn’t make major changes to their child’s diet simply based on perceptions of obesity. Just because a child looks fat doesn’t always mean they’re overweight. For instance, preschoolers have unique ways of experiencing spurts in their growth patterns and body structure. In other words, it’s difficult to assess obesity among children since they grow in unpredictable patterns.

If you want to know whether your child is overweight, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional. They will study the possibility of overweight on your child based on their growth history, weight, and height.

Lessen sedentary time

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests limiting kids’ sedentary time to no more than two hours. Compared to those inactive, physically active children are more likely to develop healthy cardiovascular fitness and stronger muscles. Typically, they also have stronger bones, lower body fat percentage, and higher self-esteem, contributing to good weight management. Plus, daily physical activity reduces the risk of mental health concerns, such as stress, anxiety, and depression.

Experts recommend that children from ages three to five years should be constantly active. Children and teens from ages six to 17 years should engage in physical activities for at least 60 minutes. Encourage them to try aerobic activity to boost their stamina. They can also try bone-strengthening activities, such as jumping, running, climbing, and muscle-strengthening activities (e.g., push-ups).

Also, make sure to limit their time playing video games, surfing the internet, and watching TV. For toddlers, avoid giving them digital devices or allowing them to watch TV as a distraction. Instead, encourage them to do fun activities that require them to move often.

If you have a nearby park in the area, invite your child to play with neighborhood kids. You can also start including physical activity in your routine to encourage your child to do the same thing. Remember, children like to imitate adults. Be their own role model by establishing healthy habits at home.

Promote regular sleep

Getting enough sleep is vital in preventing obesity, diabetes, mental health issues, and other health problems, both physically and mentally. Children have different sleep requirements depending on their age. Children from six to 12 years old require nine to 12 hours of complete sleep, while teens from 13 to 18 years old need eight to 10 hours.

Inadequate sleep can potentially lead to obesity since it drives the person to eat more and be less active. That’s why monitoring kids’ sleep time can help them maintain a healthy weight.

Encourage healthy eating

Last but not least, encouraging healthy eating habits in children is the secret to preventing obesity. By providing various healthy meals at home and limiting sugary foods, parents can promote a lifelong, balanced diet in their children.

Do this by keeping a stock of various nutritious foods at home, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, and protein-rich foods. Make sure to avoid low-nutrient, high-calorie foods and beverages, particularly sweetened ones. The best you can do is to make homemade pastries using natural and organic ingredients to encourage children to try other types of food.

For those nursing an infant, make sure to continue breastfeeding from birth to six months, without solid foods or drinks.

Good parenting is key to making sure kids will maintain healthy habits until adulthood. Allowing them to do and eat whatever they want exposes them to greater health risks and poor social life. Being a good role model for them can make your parenting life easier since kids like to imitate their adults. So make sure to follow the tips above to make active and healthy living more accessible for your little ones.

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