Parents – Help Your Child Combat Obesity

According to a 2007 report by the Trust for American’s Health, approximately 25 million children ages of 6 to 17 in the United States are either overweight or obese. Child obesity is increasing and it is considered by many to be an epidemic in developed Western countries such as Australia, Canada England and the United States.

The problem of childhood obesity is medically far more serious than most parents realise and it is a very real issue that is affecting millions of children each day. Child obesity can be directly linked to a myriad of health complications as well as to poor quality of life, poor self-esteem and impaired social skills amongst children. Because of the increasing rate of child obesity, paediatricians are noticing health problems among children that were rare in the past.

When a person is more than 20 percent above their Ideal Body Weight (IBW), they are considered obese. Obesity can also be calculated using body mass index (BMI). For children, obesity is present when total body weight is more than 25 percent fat in boys and more than 32 percent fat in girls.

Problems of Obesity

Obesity is the major cause of type 2 diabetes and is associated with high triglycerides and decreased HDL cholesterol. Insulin resistance can also be attributed to obesity. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar. Obesity is a killer because of the broad range of other diseases which it causes or makes worse.

Obesity is associated with significant increases in high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, hyperlipidemia, degenerative joint disease and psychosocial disability. Depression and problems of self image and with body dissatisfaction are also linked to obesity.

Shortening life expectancy is also associated with obesity. This disease is also widely recognised to be a serious medical problem which results in myriad distressing illnesses.

Child Obesity Problems

Overweight adolescents have a 70% chance of becoming overweight or obese adults. So, being obese as a child can have a lifelong impact. They also have the same problems that adults face.

Increased average blood pressure, heart rate and cardiac output when compared to non-obese peers is a symptom on obesity in children. Teasing from their peers is often a problem with overweight children.

Obesity in childhood is known to be associated with abnormal indices of lipolysis, including high cholesterol levels (greater than 170 mg per dL). Being overweight affects school attendance as well, possibly leading to academic problems later.

What is the Solution?

Childhood obesity is usually caused by kids eating too much and exercising too little. Researchers have discovered the obese children were 35% less active on school days and 65% less active on weekends compared to non-obese children. Parents need to set an example, be a role model and give their children guidance on exercise and healthy eating. Children of all ages will enjoy life better if they are taught to eat healthy foods and to get enough exercise.

As children tend to eat what their parents eat, parents can also assist their children by addressing their own weight issues and taking on a healthy lifestyle. If they do this, their children to emulate them. Parents should also rid their kitchens of junk foods and monitor their eating habits and refrain from eating what they ask their children not to eat. Children are more likely to be obese at if one or both parents are obese.

The fact that parents rarely exercise is part of the problem of child obesity is as well.

Participate in fun backyard sports with your children and consider taking up a sport with them or one that you practiced when young.

If the child’s parents are having marital problems or mentally or physically abusing the child, the stressful environment can make a child turn to food. This may be their only interest in life and he or she can easily overeat at that point.

Parents can also set rules for the home that help reinforce the healthy lifestyle. Parents also must be concerned enough to want to do something about their children’s obesity.

Parents need to tackle the issue of childhood obesity to ensure that their children grow up to be happy and health adults. Don’t be lazy and set your children a good example on exercise and healthy eating.

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