Wednesday 29th January 2020

Child Obesity

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Obese Teenagers - Copyrighted image, contact us to request use

Obese Teenagers
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Causes of childhood obesity

The biggest myth, say nutritionists, is the idea of a low metabolic rate resulting in excess body fat. There's no relationship between metabolic rate and body fat; there's no magical cause of fatness. The more fat you take in the fatter you will become, unless you increase your energy expenditure.

Another myth is the belief that fat parents produce genetically fat children. Although it's true that a child with overweight parents is much more likely to be overweight, the link seems to be environmental rather than genetic. No genetic relationship has ever been found, which again points to the conclusion that lifestyle, diet and exercise regime must be the causes of childhood obesity.

Traumatic experiences, such as divorce, separation, the death of a parent and sexual abuse, can also lead to children's weight gain.

Whatever the cause, one thing is sure: parents are mistaken if they are complacent about their children's obesity. Once you become seriously overweight it is much more difficult to do something about it. Fat children frequently become fat adults.

Being overweight is associated with raised blood pressure and cholesterol levels and is itself linked to heart disease.

Some parents deceive themselves about their kids' weight problems, saying it's just puppy fat, they will grow out of it, or that it suits them or that it's a sign of a healthy appetite. Other parents think that they will make their child self-conscious if they mention the issue, and the child may later develop eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, the slimming disorder.

But there are steps that parents can take if they are sure that a rare genetic or hormonal disorder is not responsible for their child's being fat.


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Children Eating Junk Food - Copyrighted image, contact us to request use

Children Eating Junk Food
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Solutions for childhood obesity

  1. The single most important thing that parents can do is to eat healthily themselves, nutrition scientists believe, in particular by increasing their own fruit and vegetables intake. Nutritionists recommend that families eat together, so that children are encouraged to try a wider range of more varied foods
  2. Don't let your kid skip breakfast. It should not be a fry-up, but the much healthier breakfast cereal variety. Give them a bowl of cereal without sugar, preferably with soya milk. An alternative breakfast could be fresh fruit. Research has shown again and again that children who don't eat breakfast perform more poorly at school, and are more prone to be hungry and have unhealthy mid-morning snacks. Research also shows that people who eat breakfast lose weight more easily.
  3. Don't give your kid fizzy drinks, especially sugary ones. Give them pure fruit juice instead, which contains a fair quantity of the required daily amounts of minerals and vitamins and is naturally fat and sodium free. A glass of fruit juice equals one of the 5 portions of fruit and vegetables recommended daily. Drinks are an acquired taste, they can be easily influenced. If your child does not like orange juice, give them pineapple or tropical fruit juice. If you have to give your kids a can of pop, let it be sugar-free, which is now easy to find everywhere.
  4. Children who are overweight don't only eat too much food, but also too much of of the wrong kinds of food. Encourage only fruit or bread-based snacks between meals, and increase your kids' bread intake generally, to discourage consumption of crisps, chocolate, sweets. A toast or a bun after school is better than crisps; a banana or an apple is better than biscuits. A behavioural approach devised by a psychiatrist is that, if children become hungry between meals, they should only eat vegetables beginning with "C", like carrots, celery, cucumber and so on; they and their parents are made to understand that mild pangs of hunger are healthy and normal.
  5. If your kids are eating a lot between meals, ask yourself what can be wrong in their meals: are they unsatisfying or boring?
  6. Remember that many of us eat too much protein, far more than we need, which can be bad for us, but too many of us lack at least some of the minerals and vitamins that our bodies need. Don't worry so much about your kids' not having enough meat; worry instead that they may have too much of it, and not enough fruit and vegetables.
  7. An attractive presentation and tastier preparation of a dish or a meal can influence your child's choice of healthier foods. Put some more effort into your kids' meals directed at making more palatable for them what is good for them.
  8. Don't put your child on a diet. Focus, instead, on healthier family eating. Children tend to lose organ tissue and muscle rather than body fat when they diet; besides, follow-up studies of children who did lose weight by dieting showed that the majority put on not only the weight they had lost but more.
  9. A psychologically effective approach to overeating recommends that the child's food portions are halved and then served on a smaller plate, so that they look just as big. Parents should also buy half-size cutlery, so that the child cannot eat so quickly. If, after some time, the kid still gains weight, the portions are halved again, unti the method has effect.
  10. When you go shopping, simply don't buy things like crisps. Think carefully of what you buy. Children can survive without crisps. If you go bulk shopping, lock food items away. It is the parents' responsibility to set kids' eating patterns at a reasonable level. Think of a thermostat: it is important to set it correctly. That involves ensuring that there is not too much food and of the wrong kind available and offered to them.

You also need to make sure that your child exercises. But that's another story. See it here: Kids fitness.



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