Childhood obesity is spreading like a bonfire and if you are one of 'those' Indian parents then I can easily put greater half of the blame on you. Here 'those' is a sensitive word referring to all those, which of course constitute the majority of Indian parents, who'll give me dirtiest stares if by chance after surveying their kids I compliment, “Hey, your child is slightly obese. Why don't you consider minor dietary and lifestyle modifications?” I understand the opacity of your parental vision; the extra weight your child puts on is totally invisible to your motherly/fatherly eyes. Fatter your child grows more healthy you'll take him to be, unless one ominous day he presents with an ailment. But, what if that presentation is too late to revert back? What if your apparently 'healthy' (we call it 'chubby') child develops sinister diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, increased blood cholesterol, cardiac multifunction just to name a few, even before he reaches ten? Wake up parents, this is exactly what is happening nowadays! Studies suggest that three-fourth of obese children develop as obese adults carrying high possibilities of all those health problems I mentioned. Is your blind love worthy of sacrificing your child's good health?
Now comes the psychological aspect; most of the obese children suffer from inferiority complex among their peer groups. If your plump cherub is open with you, he'll surely complain you of multiple occasions when he was humiliated by his friends or addressed by repulsive nicknames like- motu, golu, fatso, fatass and what not! Usually a normal kid sees another obese kid as sloppy, untrustworthy, dumb, fugly and shabby. Imagine the mountain of anguish that would bury you if your colleagues treated you that way. I'm not even highlighting the worst scenario when your obese kid is an introvert... yes, I'm leaving that to your fair imagination. Several researches over the decade have concluded that uncorrected childhood obesity has direct positive influence on weak academics, lower socioeconomic development, increased psychological problems and chances of depressive disorders! Now it is entirely up to you. The ball is still in your court. Being parents would you take necessary measures to manage your child's obesity or, will you prefer squeezing his chubby cheeks till he grows up to an ill adult? If you choose the former, here are my humble suggestions on dietary and lifestyle modification which would help to prevent as well as manage obesity in your child.
Practical suggestions for Dietary modification:
* Give your child his meals at regular times.
* Do not give bulky meals, break it into smaller portions.
* Provide him foods that take time to consume, like- corn, fruits, roti etc.
* Discourage fried stuffs and encourage boiled, baked or grilled foods, of course without added fat.
* Try to distract him with fruits or lighter snacks when he demands for chocolates, chips, dry fruits, sweets etc.
* Get him into habit of taking fresh fruits and cooked vegetables.
* Do not give some particular food item as a reward for accomplishing a task when you know he's greedy for that.
* Do not allow casual munching of foods while playing or watching TV.
* Strongly discourage carbonated and all synthetic drinks. Avoid it yourself so that he can idolize.
* Implement the concept of 'Balanced Diet' for your whole family. If you need, take help of a nutritionist.
Practical suggestions for Lifestyle modification:
* Encourage your child to walk, ride a cycle, swim or form healthy habits like using staircases even when there's elevator.
* Encourage him to indulge in sports in which he's comfortable. Don't send him to karate classes just because you watched all Bruce Lee movies.
* Schedule his TV and computer usage hours so that he doesn't form sedentary habits unconsciously. You already know how addictive these two stuffs are, right?
* Like I said in dietary modification, here also the concept of developing an overall active lifestyle in the whole family is very important.
See, children always imitate us. Doing good may not ensure your kid copying the feat but doing evil would surely lure him to follow you. So, please don't gobble the yummy cheese pizza before him while expecting him to stick with the wholesome oat meal. Improve your lifestyle, modify your dietary habits and gradually you'll see changes in your child. Your love would nourish your kid while over-love would kill him. I think now you're ready to prevent your child from getting obese or you're ready to manage him if he's already obese. Don't let childhood obesity leave its evil trail on your child's adult life. Fight against childhood obesity right from today and give your child a healthier future.