According to findings by the American Heart Foundation, every one in three youngster in the US is either overweight or obese. And a recent study by researchers at Harvard found that more than half of today’s US kids will be obese by age 35. These children and teenagers are at risk of health problems like high blood pressure, cholesterol, type-2 diabetes and even depression that are usually seen more in middle-aged adults. Childhood obesity also has an impact on the economy and public healthcare since the affected children will most likely carry them into adulthood as well.
The solution to this problem lies in early intervention and introducing healthy eating habits among families. A healthy lifestyle will not only battle obesity from developing in childhood, but also prevent it in the later years of adulthood. For parents, experts say that there are five important things that they can do to help a child battling childhood obesity.
- No fat-shaming
Constantly shaming your child about body weight or making fat jokes is not going to encourage your child to shed those extra pounds. In fact, it has quite the opposite effect and drives children to eating disorders and social isolation. It is your responsibility to cultivate healthy eating habits among your children and provide a supportive atmosphere at home where they can speak to you without the fear of judgement.
- Be a role model
The most practical way to help your child is to be a good role model yourself since kids learn by example. If you have the option, walk your way to work and take the stairs instead of elevator. Take frequent glasses of water and healthy meals in front of your child to inspire him/her to do the same. In any case, there is every chance that you will also be obese if you continue to have an unhealthy lifestyle. If you are overweight or obese yourself and you don’t have time to learn how to eat and live healthier, consider joining some clinically studied programs like Weight Watchers, or join one of the food delivery weight loss programs in your area.
- Encourage eating at home
It may sound like a chore, but eating home-cooked meals every day is an immensely healthy habit. You can control what goes in your meals and there are so many healthy recipes online that you can try at home. A better way to do it is to plan your meals a week in advance and encourage your kids to get involved in small ways. It is important for them to know the difference between good food and junk food.
- Consult an expert
You will find plenty of free advice from self-appointed dieticians whenever you discuss this problem anywhere. It is important to remember that your child has unique dietary requirements and what works for one child may not work for another. Instead of going by free advice, set up an appointment with a trained and experienced dietician to find out about the best eating chart for your family. Also, do not skip the follow-ups with this expert.
- Control screen time
Spending too much time watching television or surfing the internet is addictive but it is also the biggest factor contributing to childhood obesity. In fact, excessive screen time is a problem even for people who are thin because it makes them sedentary. Experts advice that parents should limit screen time to ensure that the child gets 60 minutes of physical activity daily.
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