HOW & WHY

The Endemic of Childhood Obesity: Creeping numbers of excess weight in childhood is due to over-eating and under-exercising. Empty calorie foods add pounds. If children consume more calories than they are burning off, the result is unnecessary weight gain. Childhood excess weight or weight gain is almost always a result of a number of factors working together to increase the risk. They are;

Diet:
Unhealthy meal options, regular consumption of empty calorie foods and snacking (junk foods, cookies, candy, soda, chips and vending machine snacks) contribute to weight gain.

Lack of physical activity:
Computers, video games and television conspire to keep children inside and sedentary, which means they burn fewer calories and are more likely to gain weight. By preschool age, many kids are already lacking enough activity, which often translates into poor exercise habits later in life.

Environment:
If a child opens up the refrigerator or kitchen cabinets and is greeted by bags of chips, candy bars, soda and empty calorie snacking, then that is likely what they will eat. Keep your fridge stocked with nutritious foods, then they will go for healthier foods. Parents do not need to deny children all treats, but strive for a healthy balance.

Psychological factors:
Some kids may turn to food as a coping mechanism for dealing with problems, stress, anxiety and boredom.

Genetics:
Born into a family of overweight people may genetically predispose to excess weight, especially if high calorie food is readily available and physical activity is not encouraged.

Socioeconomic factors:
Children in developed countries from low-income backgrounds are at increased risk for childhood obesity. Children in developing or under-developed countries from high-income backgrounds are at increased risk for childhood obesity.

Medical conditions:
Though not common, there are certain genetic diseases and hormonal disorders that can predispose a child to obesity.

Sleep:
Children who sleep less than the recommended amount hours a day are more likely to be overweight.


WHAT TO DO

Begin in infancy:
Breastfeeding may lead to a reduced risk of the child becoming overweight later. If you bottle-feed, resist to urge to encourage your baby to always finish that last drop and do not pop a bottle into your baby’s mouth in every cry. Mothers by fearing their babies may be at risk for obesity, should not count or cut calories in the first year and just concentrate on helping their babies to grow.

Focus on healthful foods:
Empty calorie treats should be avoided. Avoid Junk foods, soda and limit your children juice intake, as all are empty calories and make children too full to want to eat healthier foods. A better choice would be an actual piece of fruit and Nutrigen fibre puddings or drinks which contain satiating fibre and micronutrients.

Watch portion size:
Be clear about exactly how big a serving size is.

Cook meals at home:
Cooking can be powerful tool for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance and allows you to choose whole ingredients and control portion size. Pack school lunches together and make them sit down to regular family meals, all these will lower risk of obesity.

Forget the clean plate club:
If your child is pushing food around their plate that is a sign they might be full. Do not press to eat foods they truly do not like, even in name of healthy eating.

Focus on well balanced food:
Children need extra nutrients to fuel their growth. Avoid focusing on cutting calories, but focus on balanced diet with physical activity, managing portion sizes and incorporating lots of high-nutrient foods that are lower in calories like fruits, vegetables and Nutrigen nutri foods.

Encourage physical activity:
Get your children moving. This can start in infancy. As children grow older, monitor your children’s TV and computer time and they should be getting more hour of physical activity than screen time per day. Active children are more likely to become fit adults, so encourage them to join sports teams or play tag in the backyard. Physical activity not only burns calories but builds strong bones and helps children sleep well at night and stay alert during the day.

Involve the entire family:
Family members should know the importance of a healthy diet for everyone and take place in all activities of children.

Be a role model:
Set a good example by making it a point to incorporate healthy foods and exercise in your own lifestyle.

Relax:
Many of the healthy behaviors prevent obesity. For children under age of 7 with no other health concerns, weight management rather than loss is better, which allows the child to essentially grow into their weight, adding inches in height but not pounds. For children older than age 7, weight loss may be recommended.