How Parents Can Cut Down on a Child’s Obesity Risk — There are specific, logical and straightforward actions parents can take to maintain children’s weight at healthy levels. Start by monitoring what your children are eating to prevent unhealthy weight gain.
Keeping an eye on intake begins by ensuring they have a nutritious breakfast every day. Focus on fruits and veggies, and encourage your kids to try new things. Exposure to healthy foods is important and don’t give up after just one try. The more a child is exposed to something, the better the chance they might try it or even enjoy it later.
Limit the amount of fast food your family is eating each week, and try to meal prep for the week if you know you’re going to be busy. Make sure you have healthy options available at home and at eye level in the refrigerator and avoid keeping unhealthy options in the kitchen.
Parents should encourage increased physical activity by participating in activities with them. With so many digital gadgets, it’s hard for kids to know what to do in order to be active. So support them with some ideas on how to be active and lead by example and decide on an activity the family can do together that incorporates activity or movement.
If your child is not ready to be on a sports team that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t avoid being active. Focus on all aspects of development and growth, not just sport teams; for example who doesn’t like riding bikes, swimming, and other outdoor activities that can carry into adulthood? Note: young ones should get at least an hour a day of physical activity and by reducing screen time kids will eventually find pleasure in being up and about.
Offering rewards and praise
Eating healthily can reinforce good habits though rewards should not be related to food but instead an activity like going to the park, doing some coloring or putting a sticker on a chart. And don’t say if you eat this you’ll get a chocolate or some ice cream because that makes them feel the food we are asking them to eat is worth less than the reward.
Especially for older children, food and weight can be a sensitive topic, and concerns about how they look can contribute to issues with self-esteem. A recent study found that obesity and mental health were closely linked, with obese children more likely to suffer from emotional problems like anxiety and low mood.
Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic in Asia (especially Indonesia) and can be harmful to children in several ways, such as:
- Increased risk of glucose impairment, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes
- Breathing problems like sleep apnea and asthma
- Greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as poor self-esteem
- Higher chance of obesity as an adult
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol