Obesity is not just an adult problem

  • By Team TDO

With fast food chains multiplying in the country faster than you can say Maharaja Mac, there is an urgent need to monitor our diet. While most of the nutritional advice is directed at adults, kids too are exposed to the dangers of empty calories. Childhood obesity is on the rise across the world including India.

How does obesity affect children? And what can parents do to ensure this doesn't happen? We will try to answer some of your questions.

What are the causes of obesity in children?

  1. Lack of physical activity: Nowadays, children spend more time sitting at home - doing their homework, watching TV, and playing games on PC, console tablets or smartphones. Play time on the ground outside has shrunk. As a result, they don't get enough exercise.
  2. Unhealthy food choices: Our busy lifestyles leave us with little time to plan for or prepare every meal. The alternative is to go for quick-to-cook food like Maggi. Food ordered from outside too is invariably unhealthy. While having it once in few days is not a problem, making it a way of life leads to problems.
  3. Overweight parents: The eating pattern and lifestyle of parents has a big influence on a child's health and weight. Obesity can be hereditary.
  4. Lifestyle and environment: When parents are unable to pay much attention on their children due to their busy schedules. As a result children rely more on ready-to-eat food or junk food.
  5. Genetic factors: For some kids, genetic factors may be the reason behind obesity. A rare genetic disorder called as Prader-Willi syndrome causes severe weight gain in kids.

What health problems can obesity cause among children?

  1. Type-2 diabetes
  2. Eating disorders like bulimia or binge eating (excessive eating or drinking)
  3. Problems with foot structure
  4. Liver problems
  5. Respiratory disorders - breathlessness during exercise
  6. Difficulty in breathing while sleeping causing snoring or poor sleep

What can parents do to prevent or control obesity in children?

  1. Parents must make kids understand the ill-effects of eating junk food. They must limit their snacking on junk foods.
  2. Encourage the kids to participate in physical activities and outdoor games.
  3. Make exercising a routine for the children. Join them during exercising to make it a fun time for the family.
  4. Set an example for your kids by following a healthy diet and eating habits yourself.
  5. Limit TV time and playing videogames.
  6. Parents must include whole grains, fruits and vegetables in the diet of their children.
  7. Limit fats intake to not more than 25%-30% of total calories.
  8. Make sure to go through the nutritional label while purchasing any processed food.