Yes, parents can be the potential catalyst behind their child’s obesity because kids pick the behavior from their elders and caregivers. According to the results of the research, a child can pick up this habit even from the womb of its mother if she does not pay that much attention to the nutritional needs of the fetus. Also, there are higher chances of the child developing this condition if both or any one of the parents suffered from obesity at a young age.
Obesity is one of the serious health conditions that has been seen in children who are under the age of 5 years in recent years. According to the study data provided in 2019, the estimated number of victims was 38.2 million, and that has been surging every year, which has raised concerns for both parents and the health department.
When the child has a condition of obesity, he/ she has a body mass index above their age growth charts, and this can lead to various physical, mental, social, and emotional well-being. So, what is the reason behind this condition to happen? You must go through this article to find your answers to this question.
Why Is Childhood Obesity A Problem?
Childhood obesity is a major public health concern with numerous negative consequences for children and society. It increases the risk of developing health issues like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, and certain types of cancer. It also leads to psychological issues like depression and anxiety and can impact a child’s quality of life.
Effects Of Childhood Obesity
Children who are obese are at a higher risk of developing many health conditions. These conditions include:
- Sleep apnea.
- Type 2 diabetes.
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
- High cholesterol.
- Heart disease.
- Fatty liver.
However, the effects do not end here because they can also affect the mentality of the child and make them less confident in themselves, anti-social, stressed, depressed, and irritated. They would like to spend most of their time alone all by themselves and thus isolate themselves from other people in the world.
Causes Of Childhood Obesity
Some of the main causes of childhood obesity are unhealthy food choices, lack of physical activities, eating habits of family and parents, and the obesity history of both parents. It is transferred to the child by default if one or both the parents have a history of obesity, and when the kid grows up, he/ she starts consuming high amount of calories that leads to overweighting.
Consuming calories is okay, but along with that, these kids lack physical activity, and thus, their calories are stored instead of being used. Apart from that, medical conditions like hypothyroidism and crushing’s syndrome are also the causes behind the condition of obesity.
Symptoms Of Childhood Obesity
Since kids with obesity lack physical movement, they may have joint pain, constipation, and delayed puberty. Also, they will suffer from a lack of sleep as they might have trouble while taking a nap, and if they go to sleep, they may snore loudly. Since they don’t move around much, their body gets used to it, and they get shortness of breath just by walking up a little distance; they also sweat a lot with minimal activity.
Childhood Obesity Prevention
Parents play a significant role in shaping their children’s health behaviors and lifestyle choices, including diet and physical activity, which are key factors in preventing childhood obesity. While parents are not solely responsible for childhood obesity, they do have a considerable influence on their children’s habits and environment.
Here are some ways parents can contribute to preventing childhood obesity:
1. Serve as Role Models
- Parents should model healthy eating habits and an active lifestyle for their children. Children are more likely to adopt behaviors they see modeled by their parents.
2. Provide Nutritious Meals and Snacks
- Offer a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy products.
- Limit the availability of sugary beverages, high-fat and high-sugar snacks, and processed foods in the home.
3. Create a Positive Food Environment
- Encourage regular family meals and make mealtime enjoyable and stress-free.
- Involve children in meal planning, preparation, and grocery shopping to teach them about healthy food choices.
4. Encourage Physical Activity
- Incorporate physical activity into daily routines, such as family walks, bike rides, or active playtime.
- Support children’s participation in sports, recreational activities, and outdoor play.
5. Limit Screen Time
- Set limits on screen time (TV, computer, video games) and encourage alternative activities that promote physical activity and creativity.
6. Promote Healthy Eating Out
- Make informed choices when eating out by selecting restaurants that offer healthy options or opting for healthier menu items.
- Teach children about portion sizes and mindful eating habits when dining out.
7. Encourage Hydration with Water
- Promote water as the primary beverage choice and limit the consumption of sugary drinks, including sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks.
8. Foster Positive Body Image
- Promote a positive body image and self-esteem by emphasizing the importance of overall health and well-being over appearance.
9. Provide Emotional Support
- Create a supportive and nurturing environment that helps children develop healthy coping mechanisms for stress and emotions, rather than turning to food for comfort.
10. Stay Informed
- Stay informed about nutrition guidelines, healthy eating recommendations, and physical activity recommendations for children.
- Consult with healthcare professionals for guidance on age-appropriate nutrition and physical activity recommendations.
While parents play a crucial role in preventing childhood obesity, it’s important to recognize that other factors, such as community resources, school environments, socio-economic status, and genetic predispositions, also influence a child’s risk of obesity. Therefore, addressing childhood obesity requires a collaborative effort involving parents, schools, healthcare providers, policymakers, and the broader community.
Childhood Obesity Treatments
Physical activity, dietary changes, and behavioral treatments are some of the best ways to treat childhood obesity.
If your child has picked up the habit after looking up to you or has been genetically transferred to him/ her, then you guys must move together as a family. It means that exercise and dietary changes must be implemented for all family members and not just for your child.
However, if the condition is not managed even after involving your kid in these strategies, then we recommend that you visit a specialist or professional healthcare provider. Medications and metabolic and bariatric surgery are the last options that will work if the others do not.
So, in conclusion, although obesity is a very concerning health condition that is found in children under the age of 5, it can be managed and prevented with little amount of extra effort from the parents.
Healthcare professionals are always here to help you, but any change in life starts from home, so the first thing you will need to change is your lifestyle and increase your physical activities.
Since children learn from looking at you, you must also get involved so that you can change the physical and mental condition of your child, which will allow him/ her to enjoy an overall healthy life.
Q1. What exercises prevent childhood obesity?
Multiple exercises range from daily activities to sports activities that can prevent childhood obesity, such as pushing a wheel, walking, climbing stairs, shooting a basketball, dancing, swimming, and biking.
Q2. What happens if a child is overweight?
You must help your child to reach a healthy weight because if he/ she is overweight during childhood, then that will remain like that throughout his/ her adulthood. This can lead to various diseases and health conditions like Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and fat storage issues.
Q3. How to reduce child obesity?
You can reduce child obesity by making changes in their eating behaviors, indulging them in physical activities, and managing their time by watching television and playing video games.
Q4. How does obesity affect a child mentally?
Obesity can have a deep psychological effect on children as they may go through embarrassment and teased by others. This can cause them to have poor self-esteem, not feel like engaging in activities, isolation, and low confidence.
Q5. How can parents help prevent childhood obesity?
The prevention of childhood obesity starts from the very beginning when the child is in the womb as a mother has to monitor the consumption of nutrition and also later while breastfeeding. Apart from that, parents must monitor their kid’s eating and activity patterns and make necessary changes and modifications as and when required.
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Help Your Child Stay at a Healthy Weight (https://health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/health-conditions/obesity/help-your-child-stay-healthy-weight). Accessed 5/26/2022.
- World Health Organization. Noncommunicable diseases: Childhood overweight and obesity (https://www.who.int/news-room/questions-and-answers/item/noncommunicable-diseases-childhood-overweight-and-obesity). Accessed 5/26/2022.