By Aditi Roy
New Delhi, June 24 (IANSlife) Childhood Obesity is fast becoming a major health problem. In most cases, it is a result of an unhealthy lifestyle and it might lead to future complications – like diabetes, cardiovascular, arthritis and many other associated health disorders.
A poor diet containing high levels of fat or sugar and few beneficial nutrients can cause kids to gain weight quickly. Fast food, candy, and soft drinks, convenience foods, such as frozen dinners, salty snacks, and canned pasta, are common culprits and contribute to unhealthy weight gain.
With changing diets and physical activity levels, overweight and obesity are also emerging problems, particularly among urban residents and wealthier households. The consumption of processed foods high in fat and sugar is rising, and adolescents and adults are becoming increasingly sedentary. Overweight and obesity in adolescent girls is associated with obesity in adult women, which increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension and infant overweight and obesity, says a report by Unicef India.
“Lack of physical activity, can be another cause of childhood obesity. People of all ages tend to gain weight when they are less active. Exercise burns calories and helps you maintain a healthy weight. Children who are not encouraged to be active may be less likely to burn extra calories through sports, time on the playground, or other forms of physical activity,” says Dr Ravi Gaur, COO (Oncquest Laboratories Limited).
Kids and teens who are bored, stressed, or depressed may eat more to cope with negative emotions.
“Lockdown has ‘negatively impacted childhood obesity’. The young people end up eating an extra meal and sleeping for an extra hour daily. In addition, they have swapped their outdoor or exercise time with an extra four to five hours a day on screen, increased their intake of junk food, packed food, and sugary drinks,” says Dr Gaur.
They say the tragic COVID-19 pandemic is having collateral effects which now extends beyond direct viral infection. Children struggling with obesity are placed in an unfortunate position of isolation that appears to create an unfavourable environment for maintaining healthy lifestyle behaviours.
There is a strong need for experts to focus on introducing virtual healthy lifestyle programmes and creating awareness so that the families can be advised on taking appropriate lifestyle choices during lockdown periods. The parents and children together should maintain a healthy routine which includes regular exercise and nutritious food.
As lockdown duration goes longer, the excess weight gained may not be easily reversible and might contribute to obesity during adulthood. As we all are aware that obesity tends to track over time and continues excess weight status as adults.
So, as we face prolonged lockdowns, make sure that your child is motivated enough to follow and maintain a healthy and proper lifestyle. This will save them from getting overweight and will help them from any future disease. Dr Gaur suggests few tips which might work are as under –
Parents need to come up with ways to help their children overcome this situation and keep them motivated
Exercise Regularly: Parents should plan and execute regular physical activities in the form of Yoga, meditation, and aerobics so that they can keep themselves and their kids fit and active throughout the day.
Plan more customised activities: Indulging in cathartic activities like dancing, painting and indoor games will help children release their mental pressure and they will not feel trapped.
Keep a check on the kid’s sweet tooth: Try to avoid sugar intake in excess. The craving for candies and desserts will lead to obesity. So, instead of artificial sugar, use of natural sugars will help in killing the craving.
Restrict the screen time: There are plenty of studies that suggest that kids who spend more time on screens watching TV and playing games are more prone to obesity. So, make sure that the child is not spending too much time on screens.
Eat Together: It is an old adage, that a happy family eats together and sleeps together. This not only instils positivity in children’s minds but also helps them eat balanced diets at proper intervals.
If the childhood obesity epidemic remains unchecked, it will condemn many kids to a shorter life and put an emotional and financial burden on their poor health. So, the best way is to take measures now rather than regret later.
(Aditi Roy can be contacted at [email protected])