We all think baby fat is cute. But when you find rolls of fat under your child’s arm or back, it’s cause for concern as it is most likely a sign that your child is obese.
Childhood obesity is growing at an alarming rate in India. According to the Obesity Foundation of India, childhood obesity affects over 15% of children, making it the most common chronic childhood disease that can lead to diabetes, hypertension, and other co-morbid conditions. There are several factors contributing to the rise of childhood obesity – poor eating habits (it is estimated that 20% of children who are currently overweight are obese due to excessive caloric intake from beverages), lack of physical activity, and, to a lesser extent, hereditary problems.
So how can you help your child lose weight? There is no quick and easy way, especially given how sensitive children are. This is why it is recommended that changes in lifestyle and diet be incorporated into the family structure to ensure the child doesn’t feel singled out.
Here are four pointers on how you can help your child lose weight:
#1 Encourage exercise
Any type of aerobic activity – walking, jogging, bike riding, roller-skating – can help your child expend calories. Encourage your child to stay active in other ways, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or walking with him/her to run chores or tuition.
#2 Choose a balanced diet
Three small meals and two small snacks will ensure your child doesn’t get hungry enough to binge-eat. Make sure that includes a healthy portion of vegetables and fruits (serve whole fruit instead of fruit juice, as the fiber in fruits is very helpful). Low-fat snacks like popcorn instead of chips should be kept in the house.
#3 Change your family’s eating habits
Don’t eat in front of the TV. Without distractions, you can all focus on the food and it’s unlikely anyone will overeat.
#4 Reward his/her success
This can motivate your child to stay on course. For example, if your child avoids colas for a week, reward him/her with a favorite activity or small toy. Do not reward your child with food.