In today’s society, naturally, parents have more of a concern with their child being underweight rather than overweight. It is because you want your children to grow well and always healthy by staying hydrated and well fed with essential nutrients. There’s nothing wrong with this type of thinking and motive. However, even though this is well and good, we also need to consider the other end of the spectrum and question whether our children are being fed too much.
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According to UAE news publication ‘Gulf News’, obesity in children in the UAE has risen dramatically in recent years, a trend shared by many other countries around the world. More than 60 percent of men, women, and children that make up the total population in the UAE are overweight or obese. The main causes of this rise are too many unhealthy foods, lack of physical activity, a sedentary lifestyle and not enough understanding of the risks of carrying too much excess weight.
As adults, it is essential we set good examples for children, and health is one of the most important ones. This means taking control of your own health, identifying the risks of being overweight and being able to manage it as well as passing on this wisdom to your children.
Obesity in Children is a Serious Concern
Obesity in children is just as serious as a concern as overweight adults. The risk of having obese children is that not only physically disadvantages them from their peers, but will also lead to further health issues and the development of bad lifestyle habits that they will take into adulthood.
To identify whether your child is overweight or not, you can calculate their BMI index. However, this isn’t the most straightforward solution as weight is affected by factors such as age, gender and body type. The best way to identify if your child is obese is by seeking advice from a doctor or health expert.
Symptoms of an overweight or obese child can be:
- Heavy breathing
- Tiredness or fatigue
- Inability to participate in physical activities
- Pain in knees or joints when walking
- Difficulty sleeping or finding a comfortable position
- Snoring or wheezing during sleep
Risks of Overweight Children
1. Inability to participate with others
Carrying excess weight will physically disadvantage your child from others. Not just in physical aspects such as sport and physical activities, but also in other aspects of their lives.
Carrying too much weight will affect their behavior, mood, learning abilities as well as hinder with everyday tasks such as walking, climbing or anything with physical sorts. This will disadvantage your child amongst his/her peers.
By being overweight and realize that they are unsatisfied with their aesthetic appeal, your child may become disheartened and have his self-esteem damaged. It can lead him/her to alienate others, to a negative change in behavior or even to more serious issues such as depression and anxiety.
3. Health Complications
This is one of the worst and concerning risks when children are overweight. Carrying excessive amounts of weight is not good for their bones, joints, muscles, and overall well being. It can lead to disability as well as other health complications such as heart disease, lung damage, high blood pressure, diabetes, and possible stroke.
When being overweight or obese, it is important to address it at first notice as these health complications can become permanent or even fatal.
4. Form bad habits into adulthood
By not setting the foundation of a healthy lifestyle and equipping your child with the resources and knowledge they need to lose weight, they will end up battling with their health well into adulthood. Most adults don’t choose to be overweight or unhealthy.
They only are because they don’t have the knowledge or discipline to counter their weight, therefore losing the desire or giving up on improving their health condition. By forming good habits from an early age, your child will be able to manage their weight as well as health without you having to be with them.
How to Manage Your Child’s Weight
1. Take them out for physical activity
Whether it’s going for a walk, playing a sport, playing in the playground or even just gardening in the backyard, by taking your child out to get physical, this will help them burn calories without them even knowing it. This is the best way of reversing the stigma of having a sedentary lifestyle. It is also an opportunity for you to bond with your child as well as exercise for yourself.
2. Link fitness with fun
Every child is different. Everyone’s interests are diverse. It is why there are so many sports. Try to find something your child particularly enjoys. It will make them more active while giving them an incentive to do it more often. Whether it’s basketball, soccer, swimming or even walking the dog, as long as your child is out and about, burning calories and building up their endurance, there’s nothing wrong with having fun while dieting.
3. Diet is the key
You can’t leave out healthy diet to manage your child’s weight. It means limiting their portions as well as controlling the ingredients and nutrients they consume. Fortunately, this is easier because children don’t have control over what they eat. It becomes your choice as parents when preparing foods for them. Try sticking with organic, fresh, non-processed and clean foods. Reduce sugar and saturated fat intake.
4. Set an example
If you feed your child well and encourage them to exercise more, but you can’t do it yourself, then it’s only a matter of time until they go back to bad lifestyle habits. By having a positive influence from the people most closest to your child, they will develop good habits and tend to stick to them longer. It also means involving your partner to step up their health. If the entire household is set up in a way where everyone’s health will prosper, then it will make everyone’s life, including yours easier in regards to improving their health.
5. Find the doctor when in doubt
All these points may sound simple and easy to follow through, but once you actually try to execute them, you’ll notice it’s not as easy as it sounds. Numerous reasons as to why your child is having difficulty maintaining a good weight can range from health complications, personal problems, lack of discipline, poor parenting skills, and other reasons.
If you can’t quite find out what the problem is, your child’s doctor or professional dietician is ready to assist at any time. If you have run out of resources or answers regarding your child or even your own health, the doctor will always be there for you.
Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner and get proper help to manage your child’s health and weight.
Holiday season is coming. Don’t let your children spend it so simple, but let’s plan healthy activities for children to keep them busy and active.
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