Childhood obesity is increasing day by day and has serious implications. It is the duty of parents, teachers and health care professionals to take steps to control this problem. Over eating and lack of exercise are the root causes of obesity in children. Parents also do not take much responsibility and children are encouraged to eat easily available food like junk food. Childhood obesity has serious concerns as they lead to various diseases like type-2 diabetes, cardio vascular diseases etc. There are other concerns resulting from childhood obesity. They are:
Higher cholesterol levels and clogging of arteries leading to heart diseases
Social discrimination of obese children leading to low self esteem
Causes for child obesity:
There are many causes for obesity among children. The main causes are:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Watching too much TV and playing computer games with the advancement of media and technology
- Lack of physical exercise
- Eating too much of fatty and junk food stuffs
- Stressful environment
The increasing concerns of obesity in child calls for a combined approach to root out this evil by parents, teachers and health care professionals.
Measures to be taken to curb child obesity:
Various measures must be taken to curb the growing incidence of child obesity. Some of them are:
Educating the children about healthy eating habits and incorporating nutritious diet will go a long way in eliminating unhealthy eating pattern.
Parent-children interaction at meal times will also help to remove this problem. Parents must take extra effort to prepare meals that children like which is at the same time healthy. It is parents’ main responsibility to see that children eat healthy foods everyday like legumes, whole grain products, fruits and vegetables.
Calorie charts can be put up in the kitchen so that children know how much of calories they are consuming every day.
Enrolling children in weight loss and management programs will help them to shed weight and maintain an ideal weight.
Reducing the time spent in front of the TV and computer games and encouraging them in sports participation and out door games will help them lead active lives and help them to lose weight. They can also be encouraged to play games like football, cricket, tennis etc which will help them burn more calories.
Parents should be role models for children and should follow healthy eating habits themselves. They should also be able to monitor what the children eat in the school canteens and ask for better food choices in case the food provided is unhealthy. Canteen usually offers junk and other food stuffs including soft drinks which can aggravate the problem of childhood obesity and is a serious concern. Parents also should restrict their time spent before the TV as children tend to imitate parents and would not be able to miss TV watching if the parents themselves spend too much time in front of the TV. This is one of the important way to preventing childhood obesity.
Encouragement and support should also be provided to children in their effort towards weight loss. They should not be mocked at and insulted by parents and friends which is another concern of obesity as it might lead to poor self esteem among children. This will in turn make them loners who will fail to grow up as responsible adults. They will also have a negative image about themselves and get into a state of depression.
Such children will lack leadership qualities as they are shunned by teachers also who do not involve them in dance shows and other group activities in school because of their ugly physical appearance. Such children also grow up invariably as obese adults who do not get good jobs as employers see them as lazy and inactive people lacking in motivation. This is another serious concern which stems from the problem of childhood obesity. It is the responsibility of parents and teachers to motivate obese children to take part in activities where they can show off their talent which will in turn make them more self confident and happy.