While every child grows at their own pace, childhood obesity in the United States today affects nearly 1 in 5 children. Adolescents who are overweight are at higher risk of developing significant medical conditions. Some of these serious health problems include; heart disease, asthma, and diabetes. Oftentimes, children who struggle with their weight may also have trouble keeping up with physical activities in school and/or sports. Typically, this leads to bullying, low self-esteem, and sometimes even depression.
If your child is struggling with their weight, there are ways to help them! First and foremost, diagnosing weight problems quickly can help reduce your child’s risk of developing serious medical conditions. If you begin to notice that your child has put on a few extra pounds, try to quickly assess the cause of their weight gain. Weight gain in children can be a result of:
- Consumption of high-calorie fast food and unhealthy foods such as; chips, soda, fried foods, sweets, etc.
- Schools eliminating or minimizing their physical education.
- Spending less time outdoors playing and doing physical activities.
- Spending more time playing video games, watching TV, and playing on the computer.
- Bigger meal portions.
- Eating out regularly rather than having a home-cooked meal.
- Health conditions and/or medications.
To combat weight problems, it’s always a good idea to get the whole family involved! Leading by example and setting a healthy lifestyle for your children is the best approach to take. Some strategies you should consider when leading a healthy lifestyle include:
Making healthy food choices
A very effective way to making long-term healthy food choices for you, your child, and your family is by doing it gradually. There is a high risk of cheating or giving up when you rush to change your family’s eating habits. As you begin to progressively change your diet, you will be able to add healthier choices. Some healthy food choices include; swapping out French fries for carrots or any vegetable of your choice, refraining from eating large portions of food, reducing the amount of sugar intake and sweets, avoiding purchasing unhealthy junk food, and creating meal plans.
It used to be a common sight to see children playing in their neighborhoods, naturally getting their needed dose of exercise. In today’s growing digital world, however, children tend to spend less time outdoors and more time online. Leading a physically active lifestyle will help your children boost their activity, lowering their chances of childhood obesity. Some things parents can do to help their children increase their physical activities include; playing active indoor games like ‘hide and seek’ or ‘Simon says’, having them help you do chores around the house, enrolling them in sports or physical activities, taking walks around your neighborhood or local parks, riding bikes, and many more!
Limiting screen time
Whether it be the TV, video games, computers, or phones, the less amount of time that your child is in front of a screen, the better! Please keep in mind that you are your child’s role model so this might mean that you may have to reduce your screen time as well. Be mindful to watch your child’s calorie intake and try to refrain from allowing them to eat in front of the TV. It may also be a good idea to reward your child with more physical activities rather than rewarding them with more time to watch television or play video games.
Encourage healthy hobbies
Healthy hobbies not only help your child stay on a healthy routine, but they also promote self-confidence, learning skills, psychological growth, and more! Some healthy hobbies to encourage your child to partake in include; painting/drawing, gardening, caring for animals, singing, dancing, sports, theatre, playing instruments, cooking, scrapbooking, and many more!
If you are concerned about your child’s weight, please contact your child’s pediatrician. Please contact us to schedule your child’s appointment today.