Children across the world are becoming over weight and it is of serious concern to medical professionals. Many parents do not realise that the problem is not just the fat sitting under the skin and around the body; the fat that you can pinch, but also the visceral fat inside the body that is wrapped around the organs causing stress and damage. As the child grows, excess fat is harmful to a child's growing body; obesity can also have a heavy social and emotional effect on an overweight child. An overweight child has a high chance of becoming an overweight adult.
Many parents lead busy working lives and it is so very easy to let children sit in front of the television, play on console games or sit in front of the computer screen. Teachers can spot children who spend hours in front of screens because they have a slightly dazed, tired look about them instead of a bright healthy happy look. Sitting about can be a disaster for weight gain.
Now in the United Kingdom, nearly a quarter of children starting school is classed as overweight. These children face years of health problems but it is a problem that can be sorted out if parents will recognise the fact that they have an overweight child. A fat child is not healthy but unhealthy. We have to act now; gradual changes of habits are the key as well as being very sensitive to children's feelings. Of course parents too need to lead
How to help your child control their weight
Children are very sensitive and although some young boys may act tough they are very easily wounded and their confidence is very fragile. So you need to deal with the situation in a positive manner and lead by example. Never nag or tease them about their weight or they will just feel just awful. They do know they are overweight and do not need it to be pointed out. If you buy loads of sweets and treats they will eat them. Sugar creates imbalances in energy that can contribute to erratic behaviour, hyperactivity and mood changes.
How do you protect your child from junk food advertising?
Food manufacturers know that the best way to get money from your purse is through children's demands. This is known in the industry as pester-power. We can blame manufacturers who target children or shops that put sweets next to the checkout so that children will pester Mummy; but we can also educate our children to take care of themselves. Teach your child about food marketing of unhealthy fast and factory made foods. Show them what happens to a baby tooth when it is left in a glass of cola over night. Look at labels with them: a fruit drink with only 6 per cent fruit juice and 94 per cent water and sugar is not a healthy fruit drink. If you cannot read the words on the label or do not know what they mean do you think they are good food?
Teach children that fast food is only a weekly treat.
Lead by example; let your child see you enjoying fruit and vegetables. It is also important not to push children to eat more food when they feel full.
Parents who over-feed young children can lead them to weight problems in later life. Young babies should be introduced to pureed vegetables and fruit when the doctor advises they are ready to be weaned.
Try making your children a healthy, brightly coloured fruit salad ready for them to eat when they return home from school. Teach your child that a colourful plate of food is a healthy plate of food. Make time to cook with your children so they can learn how to make real food. Make eating meals a happy family occasional
as a family.
Get active – together
It will be no good asking your child, "Why don't you switch off the video and go and play some tennis?" But you could say, let's go to the park together. Most overweight children do not need to diet they just need you to help them make gradual changes to their eating habits; and as they grow taller and take exercise they will lose the weight as they grow in height.(Alva Carpenter/Nutritionist and fitness expert based in the Gulf. Readers can send questions to alvathursday@natural healthlines.com)