Childhood obesity is on the increase worldwide. There are many psychological and physical reasons behind this. It is tough for everyone to lose weight, and it is tougher for a child to lose weight. But with the help of parents, who have to support the child every step of the way, a child can lose weight and keep it down too. By definition, obesity is when the body weight is 20% or more than the ideal weight for the particular age and height, and if the weight shoots above 40% over the ideal weight, then your pediatrician would recommend a guided weight loss program. Here are some tips to combat obesity in children.
8 – Tips for tackling obesity in children
Before sharing the tips, let’s learn the causes of obesity. A family history of obesity, hormonal and metabolic problems, inactive lifestyle, consuming more calories than are burnt, overeating for pleasure or to cover emotions such as depression, stress, low self-esteem, anxiety, feeling lonely and isolated.
1st tip: Eat healthy during pregnancy
Your child’s relation with food starts in the womb itself. Scientists are saying that children tend to choose the food flavors and types which you used to eat during pregnancy, as these get passed on to the unborn baby through the amniotic fluid.
If you do not want to have an overweight child, you should eat healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, soups etc. This will not only help you to gain only the healthy weight during pregnancy, which you will lose faster later, but you will also inculcate healthy eating habit right from the womb. Obesity in children can start at time of birth due to overeating by mothers and family history.
2nd Tip: Breastfeed for at least 3 months
We all know the importance of breastfeeding children – the nutrients in breast milk are unmatched by any artificial baby food. In a study which was conducted in 2004, it was found that babies who were breastfed for a minimum of three months were not overweight by age four. Whereas, children who were breastfed for less than a month, had more chances of being obese by four. Scientists do not have the answer as to why breastfeeding protects from obesity in children, but it could be because nursing children tend to stop feeding when they feel full.
Another reason which can prevent obesity in children is that solids should be delayed till 6 months.
3rd tip: Listen to your baby
Do listen to your baby’s signals when you breastfeed him/her or feed him/her solids. While breastfeeding, stop feeding when your infant purses his/her lips, as babies know when they are full. You have to trust your baby’s instincts which will help him get in the habit of knowing when his/her hunger is satiated and will not overfeed.
In the same manner, you should not force your infant to finish the milk bottle or cereal if he/she turns away from his food. This is one of the solutions to solve obesity even before it becomes a problem.
4th tip: Make healthy foods tasty
If your child is over the weight he should be, then the child’s diet plans should include some fruits and vegetable with every meal. Make the veggies tasty with some healthy garnish, such as vinegar and pepper, or oregano, or a dash of homemade mayo. Add flax seed powder to yogurt as it gives a nutty flavor. Freshly cut onions and tomatoes can also be a good dip to eat with baked vegetable snacks like baked sweet-potato.
5th tip: Make a healthy platter look attractive
Usually, it can be seen that obese children love their food. They tend to eat a lot of junk food as well. Wean them gently from their beloved fatty foods, by creating imaginative menus with colorful foods, such as yellow and red bell peppers, beet, carrots and tomatoes, cucumbers with other ‘boring’ vegetables. This is one of the best ways to help your overweight child stop eating fast food, and transition to healthy food. You have to eat the same food as your child, as he will not eat veggies if you are snacking on fries.
6th tip: Keep the portion sizes according to their age
Children do not need many calories per day. When they eat more, they won’t be able to digest it and burn the extra calories, leading them to be overweight. One of the effective solutions to solve is to serve the child just the right amount of food. So how do you know how much is enough?
One simple rule is to serve one tablespoon of every food for every year of the child’s age. This will give them the nourishment they need without overeating.
7th tip: Monitor the amount of beverages
To help prevent obesity in children or to fight it, you have to be strict with your child. Soda consumption is a huge problem and cause for obesity, as these drinks contain nothing but empty calories and no nutrition at all. However, fruit juices which have added sugar are not healthy either. Just go the extra mile and make juices for your child at home, and never add sugar to them.
8th tip: Stick to timely meal schedules
When you’re fighting the good fight against obesity in children, you have to have set mealtimes. There has to be three big meals with two snacks every day. Don’t allow your child to keep munching the whole day, even if he/she says that they are hungry. This is just out of habit and false hunger. Let them drink some water instead.
But do let them eat their fill during the mealtimes. And fill their days with interesting and fun activities which will stop them snacking out of boredom. Physical activity will help them lose weight as well and make them hungry. Involve the child in any sport that he/she likes.
It might be difficult to convince the child to join a sport, as they might have been the butt of mean comments from other children earlier (children can be very mean!). But you have to be there for your child and tell him/her to participate in the game/sports as the goal is to lose the weight he/she is teased about!
Exercising together, chewing slowly, and being the role model for your child, and working out effective diet plans will help your child lose weight slowly and steadily, and keep it off.