There has been a three-fold increase in childhood obesity in the last thirty years. Lack of activity is one of the main reasons for this. Children spend more and more time in front of the TV and with electronic gadgets and games. Physical activity has taken a back seat. Together with the lack of exercise, lack of wholesome food in the diet is another cause for obesity. Fast food provides fewer nutrients but lots of extra calories.
It is important that children form health promoting habits for food and recreation. Being obese in childhood increases the likelihood of becoming obese as an adult. It takes concentrated effort from the part of parents and other caregivers to prevent childhood obesity. Here are some tips that can help you in this.
Ensure proper nutrition
Avoid junk food which is packed with hidden sugars and fats. Include lots of vegetables and fruits in the diet. Go for home cooked meals as much as you can.
It may not be very easy to wean children away from junk food. But sharing meal times with the family is a great idea to make it work. Studies have linked the practice of a family eating dinner together at least five times a week with reduced chances of children becoming obese. This may be due to the inclusion of more wholesome food on these occasions, and the attention paid to what children eat at these times.
Bottled drinks have lots of added sugars. It is good to encourage children to drink water, instead of other drinks, to quench their thirst. Instead of sweets suggest fresh fruits whenever possible. Most processed foods contain refined sugars and these sugars are the main reason for obesity.
Encourage physical activity
The calories children gain from food have to be balanced with adequate physical activity, for proper growth and nourishment. Encourage children to be physically active. This can be in the form of sports and games in school, or through health clubs and gyms.
One good way to inspire your children is to exercise with them. This emphasizes the importance of fitness as a goal to work for. Take them for walks. Include them in your exercise routines. You could make use of the guidance of a personal trainer to develop their own set of exercises which they could do with you.
Make fitness your priority
By giving priority to your own fitness you send the proper messages to your child. By making healthy food choices you do the same. Young children emulate their parents. You can guide them towards proper choices by making proper choices yourself.
Obesity in children increases their chance of developing high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. It is only by bringing about lifestyle changes that this health risk can be curbed. Studies have linked the behavioral patterns of eating dinner together, having enough sleep and watching less TV to reduced chance of childhood obesity. Teach children good healthy habits for food and recreation and it will help to keep them healthy during their entire lifetime.