6 TIPS TO HELP YOUR CHILD FIGHT OBE­SITY

India Today - - PARENTING -

It is a tes­ta­ment to the way In­di­ans view fat or weight as a sign of pros­per­ity, that over­weight chil­dren are fondly re­ferred to as ‘healthy’. Iron­i­cally, they are in fact the ex­act op­po­site of healthy. An over­weight child runs the risk of Type II di­a­betes, car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­eases, meta­bolic syn­drome and cancer — not re­ally dis­eases you’d as­so­ciate with chil­dren. But a re­cent study by the Univer­sity of Colorado Cancer Cen­tre says these are long-term ill ef­fects of child­hood obe­sity, even if your child does end up los­ing the weight over time. The study sug­gests that the ear­lier a child be­comes obese, the ear­lier these dis­eases make an ap­pear­ance in adult life.

Other dis­eases as­so­ci­ated with child­hood obe­sity are non-al­co­holic fatty liver dis­ease, ob­struc­tive sleep ap­nea, poly­cys­tic ovar­ian syn­drome, in­fer­til­ity, asthma, orthopaedic com­pli­ca­tions, and psy­chi­atric dis­ease among oth­ers. En­sure that your lit­tle one never gets to the stage of obe­sity. Fail­ing preven­tion, a speedy cure is the next step.

START YOUNG

Stud­ies show that for­mula fed ba­bies are more likely to be­come obese by the age of five years than ba­bies who are breast­fed. Pro­fes­sor Atul Sing­hal, from the MRC Child­hood Nu­tri­tion Re­search Cen­tre at Univer­sity Col­lege Lon­don and lead re­searcher points out that fast weight gain in in­fancy can lead to obe­sity as an adult. Ba­bies tend to take in more calo­ries when bot­tle-fed as they can just lie back and drink, as op­posed to breast­fed ba­bies who have to work harder to suckle. Dr Va­neet Parmar, pae­di­a­tri­cian,

Off­spring Clinic, Gur­gaon, says that, chil­dren as young as six months can be­come over­weight and at that stage, it’s dif­fi­cult to help them shed these ex­tra ki­los. What one can do how­ever, is to take note and en­sure that as your child grows, a strict check is kept on his or her weight and eat­ing habits.

THE RIGHT AT­TI­TUDE

Teas­ing, call­ing the child fatty or motu, or mak­ing fun of a tee shirt that looks fit to burst is un­nec­es­sary, hurt­ful and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive. Gouri Dange, fam­ily coun­sel­lor and au­thor of More ABCs of Par­ent­ing says that obese kids have poor self­im­age and

such kind of cal­lous teas­ing leads to a vi­cious cy­cle where they com­pen­sate for their hurt by overeat­ing. No two bod­ies are alike, so fo­cus­ing on be­ing fit and healthy is the goal, not merely re­duc­ing weight. It helps if the par­ents make fit­ness a part of their daily rou­tine so that chil­dren grow up learn­ing the im­por­tance of be­ing healthy. Avoid fo­cus­ing on looks, com­plex­ion and weight and dis­cour­age fam­ily and vis­i­tors from com­ment­ing on their weight. Un­der no cir­cum­stances should you use

CHILD­HOOD OBE­SITY IS NOW A GROW­ING PROB­LEM IN UR­BAN IN­DIA. SM­RITI LAMECH TELLS YOU HOW TO EN­SURE YOUR CHILD DOESN’T FALL PREY TO THIS NU­TRI­TIONAL DIS­OR­DER

celebri­ties or mod­els to in­spire your child or mo­ti­vate him/her to lose weight. These strate­gies only lead to poor body im­age and eat­ing dis­or­ders.

MAKE HEALTH A FAM­ILY AF­FAIR

Fight­ing obe­sity is not an easy bat­tle and can­not be treated as your child’s prob­lem alone. Deny­ing your child choco­late bis­cuits or chips while the rest of the fam­ily gorges on the same snacks guilt-free, is un­fair and will make him re­sent­ful. Empty the re­frig­er­a­tor and pantry of all un­healthy food so that there is no temp­ta­tion for the child. Even if the other fam­ily mem­bers aren’t over­weight, eat­ing healthy will ben­e­fit ev­ery­one. If friends bring home or of­fer junk food, Gouri Dange sug­gests deglam­ouris­ing it. Cre­ate home­made snacks like bhel, nimbu pani, or home­made burg­ers. Dange points out that an over in­dulged child is usu­ally the re­sult of a lazy, path-of-least-re­sis­tance type of par­ent­ing so you might have to shake yourself out of that zone and work with your child.

FOOD IS NOT A RE­WARD

Food is nour­ish­ment. So buy­ing them a burger when they ace a class test, a choco­late for tidy­ing up their rooms, only serves to re­in­force food as a prize in their mind. Pick an ac­tiv­ity that your child en­joys as a re­ward in­stead — play a game to­gether, spend some time do­ing a craft project or teach them to fly a kite. Not only do fun ac­tiv­i­ties ex­pose chil­dren to dif­fer­ent ideas, it also en­sures that they don’t equate food with re­wards. Af­ter all, no one of­fers a child broc­coli for shar­ing their toys. It’s im­por­tant to un­der­stand that such be­hav­iour can be­come a life- long habit. When chil­dren be­come adults they will con­tinue to re­ward them­selves with junk food af­ter a long day at work or while go­ing through a stress­ful time.

MAKE TIME FOR ONE PHYS­I­CAL AC­TIV­ITY EV­ERY WEEK

Mod­ern life­styles, lack of safe play op­tions, more con­crete, longer school hours, a va­ri­ety of screens, these are just some of the rea­sons chil­dren don’t get to play out­doors. This needs to be mended. If your child isn’t in­ter­ested in an or­gan­ised sport, pick some­thing else that in­volves the out­doors and might pique the child’s in­ter­est. Arvind Ashok, fit­ness coach and co-founder of The Quad, Chen­nai sug­gests try­ing some­thing new like mar­tial arts. Other op­tions are trekking, bird watch­ing, swim­ming or horse rid­ing. Once your child finds some­thing that holds his in­ter­est, you will no longer need to push him to do it.

ADD THE FAT, SUB­TRACT THE SU­GAR

Avoid pseudo healthy malt drinks. “They con­tain a lot of su­gar and wheat prod­ucts (main com­po­nents of all junk food) and in truth are nu­tri­tion­ally poor,” says Ashok. If a child must add some­thing to his milk, let it be fruit and nuts. Make sure your chil­dren are eat­ing full cream ver­sions of milk, cheese, pa­neer and curd. Grow­ing bod­ies need these es­sen­tial fats and they will help keep su­gar crav­ings low. Eggs are an­other com­plete food that can be used as a snack in­stead of other pop­u­lar nib­bles that mas­quer­ade as healthy food, like oat­meal cook­ies, pack­aged ce­real, protein bars, juices, su­gar free diet ver­sions of drinks and bis­cuits among oth­ers.

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