Obesity in children, how can we avoid it?

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A child eating snacks as he watches tv. Image from:http://atlantablackstar.com/2014/01/30/childhood-obesity-is-kick-starter-for-other-diseases/

The number of children suffering from nutritional issues such as obesity is fast on the rise mainly because of the change in food choices and lack of physical activities as well as genetic factors.  Only in rare cases is being overweight caused by a medical condition such as a hormonal problem. Obesity can lead to some of the following health problems: heart disease, asthma, type 2 diabetes, among others. It is therefore important that as a parent you help your child to grow into healthy habits.  Each parent should take steps to protect and or restore their child’s nutritional health.

The first step would be to training your child on what are the acceptable portions to take per meal. Give your child little portions. Have them finish it and if they are not full then add a reasonable portion for the second serving. With this you will not only help the child avoid overfeeding during meals but also avoid unnecessary snacking in between meals because satiety is ensured.

If snacking is necessary, ensure that they snack on the right snacks. When stocking up, try to get healthy stuff like fruits which you can put nearer to their reach and sweets or calories filled snacks further away.  At the same time ensure that other members of the household also practice healthy eating and snacking so that the child feels encouraged and does not get enticed to eating wrong foods.

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The choice between healthy and unhealthy. Image from: http://livingtextblog.andosciasociology.net/2014/12/03/a-rose-childhood-obesity-amy-mena/

When going to buy the foods and snacks let the child tag along and choose their favorite fruits or vegetables. That will encourage them to eat the fruits when they finally get home.

When preparing meals reduce on the amount of carbohydrates and fats.  Also reduce the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar, sodium and saturated fat.  Those are the obvious providers of unnecessary calories in the body.  Encourage them to drink lots of water and fresh fruit juices too.

When coming up with reward systems for your child, try and avoid food rewards like fries, pizzas, .  Encourage them to read by getting them books, or buy them toys, bikes or take them to an activity filled outing instead.

Try to limit the amount of time your children spend watching tv, playing video games or even checking out stuff on the internet to less than 3 hours a day. They need to expend the energy they get from the food they have eaten.  Encourage them to take part in recreational activities that involve lots of playing as a family or even on their own.  For example, when choosing family outings go for things like swimming, football, skipping rope or activity filled outings like to an amusement park.

It is especially important that you have your child understand why you make all these choices. That way they will feel responsible for themselves and be able to conduct themselves responsibly in your absence whether at home or elsewhere.

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