Overweight children are becoming a more common sight with every passing day, especially with the urban population. Sometimes these fat children are merely seen as healthy, with the parents even taking a little pride in how well they’re looking after their kids. However, the thin line between healthy (read fat) and overweight is increasingly being crossed.
The ideal weight of any person is determined by the Body Mass Index (BMI) which is a ratio of height to body weight. A child with normal body weight will have a BMI of between 18 – 24. Those whose BMI ranges from 25 – 29 are considered overweight while anything above 30 is classified as obesity. It is important to note that these parameters may change depending on the specific details of the child. A doctor would be the best person to analyze the situation. The figures given can be used as a general guide.
As illustrated in the BMI figures above, an overweight child is not necessarily obese, but could be on the way there. As a parent, you’re in the best position to ensure that your child remains in the healthy weight bracket. The most common causes of child obesity are unhealthy eating patterns and lack of physical activity. Genetic factors may play a minor role.
What are your children eating? Are they exercising? These are things you can control. Left to their own devices, children will eat junk food every day. Their favourite food? French fries, sausages, burgers, ice cream, soft drinks and so on. Have you come across kids who love spinach or broccoli? I have not.
The first step in ensuring that your kids are eating healthy is checking what you stock in your kitchen. Children will not eat what is not there. Get rid of fatty and sugary snacks and go for natural options such as nuts. Replace the soft drinks with fruit/vegetable juice. Prepare home cooked meals instead of eating out. Restaurant meals and fast foods have much more calories in comparison. You can also pack their school lunch if you’re not sure of what is offered there. Begin to teach your children the benefits of healthy eating as soon as they can understand the basics.
Do not let your children become couch potatoes. Am sure they’d want to watch TV and play video games all day long. But you know better than that right? Encourage them to get outdoors and play around. There are all manner of physical activities that children can be involved in. Swimming, cycling, walking, jogging, jumping and so on. Invest in apparatus that will encourage the children to get out and play such as balls, bats, water pool, bouncing castle and so on.
Overweight children have higher chances of developing self esteem issues. They often get bullied and teased and their confidence suffers in the process. They hardly take part in sports for fear of victimization. You definitely don’t want your child to go through any of these. Introduce them to a healthy lifestyle. They may not like it now but don’t worry; they’ll thank you later.