With age many of us gain weight as the level of physical activity reduces and metabolism slows down. But why do many children who are more active and who eat better suffer from obesity? Ksenia Averina, M.D., pediatrician, and Galina Fadeeva, a psychologist, shared their expertise with MedPulse.ru.
“Increasingly more children suffer from obesity. Within the last 20 years, the number of children age 6 through 11 suffering from obesity has increased two-fold, and teenagers – thee-fold,” says Galina Fadeeva.
This can be explained by the so-called improved life standard when sedentary life style and consumption of high-calorie fast food is considered normal.
It is a very serious problem because the child’s body continues developing. If a child is overweight at early age, in future it may cause various diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, and atherosclerosis.
Specialists name several reasons for children’s obesity. They include the following:
“If all family members are overweight, a child may be genetically predisposed to obesity. Most often it has to do with family traditions. If a family is used to eating a lot and not moving too much, a child in this family may gain weight,” Galina Fadeeva says.
2. Unbalanced diet
When parents do not pay much attention to their children’s diet, the children normally choose tasty and unhealthy foods like fast food, chips, candy and soda.
“Often parents give their children lunch money and the children buy treats that are not good for them at all,” the doctor explains.
3. Lack of physical activity
When back home from school, children do homework, and then kill time watching TV or playing computer games. The calories they obtained from food are not burnt, which causes obesity.
4. Psychological factors
“Children try to compensate for their negative emotions eating ample and sweet meals. They may be concerned with their issues with other kids or may feel uncomfortable, and food makes them feel better. As a result, they gain weight,” says Ksenia Averina.
Apart from health problems, obesity may lead to psychological and emotional traumas.
“Sometimes parents berate their kids for being fat. Other kids tease their fat buddies, too, and sometimes even teachers don’t leave them alone. This makes overweight children develop low self esteem and feel depressed.”
What should parents of overweight children do?
1. Consult a specialist . Excessive weight is not always pathology. Your child may have a certain type of build. Only a doctor can identify whether your kid is overweight.
2. If your child is obese, first pay attention to her diet. Control your child’s food consumption. Do not allow high calorie and high sugar foods.
3. Limit TV and computer time to two hours a day.
4. Try to make the child more active. You do not have to make your child do physical exercises or be a member of a sports group. You can play active games together or give your child tasks that require physical activity. It would be much better if these activities were satisfying for your child.
5. Talk more with your child about her emotional issues. These issues are often the reason for overeating.
6. Do not forget to praise your child. Invent an incentive system, even for insignificant weight loss. Yet, do not use food as a prize. A visit to an entertainment park is a far better option.
7. Introduce healthy habits for the entire family. For example, limit the consumption of white color food rich in carbohydrates, including rice, pasta, white bread, and sugar. Offer more fruit, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid eating in front of TV. Try not to eat out too often.
Invent activities for the entire family, for example, snow shoveling or yard cleaning.
If you show your child a good example, you will most likely be able to solve the excessive weight issue.