5 Ways to reduce risk of obesity in children
WHAT IS OBESITY?
Obesity is defined as a condition in which excess fat in the body hurts the health of a person. It is one of the leading causes of major health problems like diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Obesity is not restricted to a specific age group. Everyone can suffer from this medical condition including toddlers. As children of this age grow fast, obesity among them may go unnoticed by parents.
These children have additional weight when compared to other children of their height and age and this hurts the functioning of their body. The Body Mass Index is a tool which determines whether a person is underweight, has normal weight or is obese. To calculate the body mass index, the weight of the child is divided by the height. As toddlers grow fast, it is important to check their body mass index every few weeks.
CAUSES OF OBESITY
There are multiple causes of obesity. It occurs when someone consumes more calories than they burn. These calories may not get burned because of the lack of physical inactivity. Today’s technology-driven lifestyle promotes such inactivity. The shift from outdoor games to television and tablets as a source of entertainment has increased the probability of developing this medical condition even in early childhood.
Parents get lost in their daily hustle and often hand over gadgets to their kids as small as a year old to keep their minds busy but body inactive. A poor or unhealthy diet packed with sugar and processed fats also lead to obesity.
An important thing to note here is that these foods barely contain any nutrients which are essential for proper growth and development of their body. Giving children as young as twelve to thirty-six months junk food can hinder development and cause many health problems.
Adopting such unhealthy patterns of eating can have long term repercussions. Sometimes obesity can be heredity in nature. Having one or more obese family member increases the chance of the child having obesity. However, as mentioned above, it is not the only deciding factor.
FIVE WAYS TO REDUCE THE RISK OF DEVELOPING OBESITY
1. Breastfeeding: According to Stanford Health Care, breastfeeding, in general, reduces the risk of obesity. The chances of a baby who is given milk the traditional way for six months or more, developing obesity are reduced by twenty to forty percent. The longer babies are breastfed, the stronger they become and are less likely to suffer from this condition. Doctors often recommend parents to breastfeed their babies even after they hit the one-year age mark along with the other food which is given.
2. Follow A Nutritious Diet Plan: Parents should follow a healthy and nutritious diet plan for their toddlers. They should be given healthy food to not only prevent obesity but to promote proper growth. The focus should be on fresh fruits and vegetables rather than processed juices and snacks. These children may develop a sweet tooth if they’re constantly given sugar. The diet should be packed with all the essential nutrients and must be given at regular intervals to maintain a stable weight. This is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing obesity.
3. Visit A Paediatrician: A sign of obesity which goes unnoticed by parents is if the baby is hitting their milestones at the right time. Children with poor weight may have problems with physical tasks such as moving around, walking and running. Their weight may be holding them back from achieving tasks their peers have accomplished. Parents who are unsure if their child has a healthy weight or not must visit an expert. Regular visits to a pediatrician can help them determine a healthy diet plan for their baby. Babies grow fast so the normal weight for their given age changes faster than for adults.
4. Parents As Good Role Models: Babies often try to imitate grown-ups who act as models. They want what the “grown-ups” are having. If their parents just drink sugary drinks and eat processed food, the toddler may want a taste or more too. If the parents incorporate healthy elements in their diet, the baby is more likely to eat the given food as he has this feeling of being included rather than left out. In this way, parents can set a good example for their toddlers and promote a healthy lifestyle.
5. Physically Active:Parents must encourage their children to take part in physical activities instead of trying to keep them preoccupied with gadgets. These days, toddlers are immediately attracted to phones and televisions and sometimes parents overuse this as a source of distraction. Gadgets should be kept far from their reach to prevent them from sitting idle for long periods. Not to forget that screens are very harmful to a toddler’s developing eye. Even though it is tiresome for the parents, babies should be encouraged to be physically active.
This is the age when they first get to explore the world on their own feet. If there’s one thing babies are good at, it is keeping their parents physically active. Chasing them is much needed even though it can be taxing. Setting up playdates for their toddlers can be beneficial in this scenario.
It’s important to note that all the precautions listed above together prevent obesity and not just one. At the end of the day, parents need to pay close attention to the eating habits and other behaviors of their toddler. A baby who eats well runs and jumps is not only a healthy baby but also a happy baby. And a happy baby automatically leads to a happy family!