Parents should be alarmed these days because according to World Health Organization (WHO), childhood obesity reached alarming numbers globally. This nightmare exploded in the developing world counting Africa where the number of overweight and obese children below five years doubled since the 90’s. The report was revealed by the WHO’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity.
Initially, the commission did not treat obesity a serious public health issue because it is the by-product of lifestyle choices by families and individuals. However after two years, the commission realized that governments and other health bodies play an important part in reversing it. It is not the kid’s fault but of biological factors like insufficient access to healthy foods, slow drop of physical activities in school and loose marketing of foods that are fattening.
The commission already recommended some policies to promote healthy lifestyle. The progress in undertaking childhood obesity has been sluggish and erratic. According to reports by the commission, about 48% of children in Asia are categorized as obese or overweight. This should be enough warning not only for Singaporeans.
As parents, it is our role to keep our children away from harm’s way. Here are some ways to help our children fight obesity:
Setting good example
Children look up to their parents. As parents, we have a big role to play in terms of setting a good example to them. It is time to walk the talk. Parents or caregivers alike should make healthy lifestyle choices so the children will follow their lead. Obesity can increase one’s risk for grave medical problems. Remind the children that healthy decisions can help reduce possible risks.
Scheduling wellness exams regularly
Bringing our children to the paediatrician regularly should be observed. The check-ups will include physical examination and questions that should be answered. This way, the doctors will know the status of our child. If there is a need to administer immunizations, doctors will surely aid us. In the case of obesity, doctors can help us monitor their growth through Body Mass Index (BMI). BMI is important so we will know if the child’s weight and height are within range.
Making sure that children get rest
According to some studies, children with lesser sleeping hours are likely to be obese. Children who are in school should at least undertake ten hours of sleep every night. Young children on the other hand need about twelve hours of sleep while adolescents need nine hours of sleep.
Encouraging children to be physically active
Instead of letting children play in the computer all day, do them good by sending them outside. Encouraging children to be physically active is easy especially if the whole family is up to it. Allotting at least one hour of physical activity every day can make a difference at the end of the day. We can consider hiking, strolling or bicycling.
Grocery shopping together
What other way to immerse the children to healthy options than go grocery shopping together? Going to the grocery together can teach the children about healthy decisions as well as food choices. Involving the children in healthy food planning up to preparation can open their minds to the goodness of vegetables and fruits.
Avoiding untoward comments
Children are very sensitive and when they hear that their weight is an issue, they will self-pity and even be aloof. In the home, weight should never be an issue. Making untoward comments about the child’s weight is like ridiculing him/her and belittling – which are by the way unpleasant feelings.
Educate the children
It is not easy to explain why delicious foods are bad for one’s health but if it is explained well, the children will appreciate the warning. Educating the children of the dangers of obesity or even malnutrition will open their eyes. Also, if the child is keen on fad diets like diet pills and substances, they should know the hazards of it. When taking any supplements, it is best to seek for the doctor’s advice.
Remember that obesity is not the fault of children. If we consistently follow-through, they will be aware thereby making informative choices when it comes to food and lifestyle in general. We have a role to play and it will be up to us whether to let them live long or not.