Do you know that around 1 in every 5 children across America has obesity-related health complications? That’s an alarming statistic, but it’s, unfortunately, true because child obesity is a burgeoning epidemic. Obesity envelopes the body with a range of complex risk factors and chronic health conditions.
Children who are overweight or obese have a significant risk for unhealthy development and multiple life-threatening diseases. Common chronic illnesses associated with obesity include type 2 diabetes, heart disease, asthma, sleep apnea and degenerative diseases. Childhood obesity also sets the stage for psychological trauma by exposing children to bullying.
Obese children who struggle with bullying often suffer from social isolation, social anxiety and depression. Obesity compromises the physical and mental wellbeing of children, lowering their self-esteem and distorting their body image. Tackling this problem before it spirals into a formal diagnosis is the best course of action.
So, how can parents effectively reduce obesity in children? Keep reading to find out.
1. Find Dietary & Lifestyle Culprits Behind Obesity
Is your child overweight because of the family culture of serving multiple courses and devouring large portion sizes? Family values, ethnic traditions, and food cultures profoundly impact childhood eating behaviors and food preferences. We model the eating behaviors and preferences of our parents and family members, learning to eat from them.
Suppose you have an unhealthy diet comprising processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle. In that case, your children are likely to model the same habits and become obese due to unregulated food consumption. Public health researchers investigate the causes of child obesity and rule out parental habits as a principal factor.
If you’re interested in investigating the lifestyle and dietary patterns associated with obesity, consider pursuing a master’s in public health. Are you wondering what can you do with a master’s in public health to curb childhood obesity? Public health opens up numerous rewarding career paths to investigate and eliminate risk factors of life-threatening diseases.
With an MPH degree under your belt, you can explore avenues in research, awareness, advocacy, policymaking, and community outreach. You can collaborate with researchers and public health professionals to investigate the causes of obesity by studying large populations. Public health experts collaborate with policymakers to design policies that advocate nutrition to curb obesity risk factors.
Many professionals work closely with community-led organizations to help families and households prevent obesity and other diseases. Reading and researching public health resources is enough to obtain actionable information to help your children fight obesity. But if this career path inspires you, rest assured that public health is brimming with rewarding opportunities to uplift communities.
2. Start a Healthy Well-Balanced Diet
The human body isn’t designed to function optimally under the weight of excess body mass and fats smeared across crucial muscle groups. That explains why it doesn’t take long for obesity to compromise organ functions and muscular agility.
Starting a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet for the entire family is best to tackle child obesity with mindful lifestyle changes. You can’t expect your children to eat steamed broccoli and peas while you devour medium-rare steaks and cheesy casseroles. Embracing a healthy diet doesn’t necessarily mean avoiding all the foods you and your children love. Instead, you need to start preparing their favorite foods with wholesome ingredients.
You can begin by preparing a chart of essential nutrients and identifying seasonal fruits, vegetables and ingredients to get those nutrients. Then, make a weekly meal plan comprising seasonal fruits, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grain, and lean meats. You need to balance your diet with healthy fats derived from nuts and fatty fish. It’s wise to consult a nutritionist or dietitian for detailed insight to overcome nutrient deficiencies.
A nutritionist can help you prepare a balanced, nutrient-rich diet plan to help your child overcome obesity. However, you must also embrace the change to encourage a lifestyle shift instead of forcing a strict and depriving diet.
3. Encourage Regular Physical Activity
Parents who lead sedentary lifestyles encourage their children to embrace the same patterns. Do you spend your time glued to your screens while your children lay around and use their gadgets? Understandably, modern-day professions demand excessive screentime, and we spend our days glued to our gadgets. However, leading a sedentary lifestyle runs the risk of numerous chronic and acute diseases.
If you’re encouraging sedentary patterns in your children, it’s time to act decisively and become a physically active family. You and the children can engage in family workout sessions, encouraging and pushing each other towards physical fitness. Suppose your family doesn’t enjoy the idea of hitting the gym or engaging in regular exercise. In that case, you can explore any enjoyable physical activity, such as hiking, dancing, or swimming.
You can also encourage your children to take up sports like tennis, basketball, football or running. It’s crucial to ensure your children get at least an hour of daily physical activity. Exercise will burn the excess fat, alongside promoting muscular strength and cardiovascular wellbeing. What’s more, regular exercise and physical activity reduce the risk factors of depression and anxiety amongst children.
4. Teach them about Nutrients & Physical Fitness
Parents must educate their children about the dietary sources of essential nutrients and the significance of physical fitness. A child’s education begins at home, and parents must encourage their children to recognize the importance of essential nutrients.
Suppose your child doesn’t like to eat broccoli, cauliflower, or leafy greens. In that case, consider trying to paint an animated picture about the rich concentrations of vitamins and minerals found in these foods. The idea is to introduce your child to the benefits of essential nutrients like protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Learning how their everyday meals enrich their bodies with powerful and energizing nutrients will make them more receptive to healthy foods. Children readily embrace fruits and vegetables when they understand their nutrient profiles and advantages. It’s equally important to teach your child about physical fitness and cardiovascular health to encourage athletic pursuits.
The human body can climb soaring altitudes and dive into the most bottomless pits of the ocean. But it all begins with our perceptions of our bodily strengths and how we tone and develop our physical fitness. Children who are taught the importance of regular exercise and physical agility are more likely to become healthy adults.
Helping your child overcome obesity demands you join them in undertaking a mindful and healthy lifestyle shift. It’s time to embark on a mental and physical transformation by putting an end to all unhealthy patterns. That means no more takeout meals and cheesy casseroles and replacing harmful ingredients with nutrient-rich foods.