Obesity – How to Prevent Childhood Obesity!

Over worked and stressed out mothers all across the world seem to be settling for convince over quality. After a grueling day at the office, its easier to pick up something from the local take away shop rather than spend the precious few hours you have left of the day too cook a wholesome meal.

Switching on "the box" and letting the kids veg out seems a much easier alternative to watching little Johnny climb up the tree. In today's fast paced world, obesity is growing at a very alarming rate and how to prevent childhood obesity seems to be a hot topic.

Childhood obesity is a major problem that most of the developed countries are facing today. It has alarmed the whole world and frightfully, if not cured during childhood, will result in your child being overweight through his or her adult years. This may also result in a number of serious diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. So, prevention in this instance proves to be much better than cure.

Lets face it, kids can be incredibly honest and extremely cruel. Chances are if you are overweight, you will not only be the last one picked for the team, you will also find it harder to make friends are will more likely be shut out socially. For the parent of the obese child, it is heartbreaking to witness your kid being tortured and teased, but, if we are to prevent childhood obesity, a firm, consistent routine needs to be implemented with both parent and child coming to the party.

Due to our own eating habits, lack of exercise and sedentary lifestyle, our children are now suffering the consequences. Our generation has the largest amount of obese children and the numbers are increasing rapidly on a daily basis. In order to try and eradicate this problem, parents need to start early and lead by example.

It is not fair for you to munch away on all the forbidden goodies while your child is preached to about healthy eating. As a parent and role model your main goal should be to cultivate proper eating habits.

Your child's diet should be well balanced with three meals a day as the standard. Unhealthy, processed snacks and treats need to be kept to a bare minimum and in best-case scenario, eradicated. Offer fruits and healthy snack alternatives instead. Also, as a rule, never skip breakfast, it is the most important meal of the day and enables the regulation of metabolism as well as blood sugar levels.

It's all good and well to promote healthy eating but it is also vital for children to be active. To prevent childhood obesity, physical activity is another key ingredient. With the progress of modern technology, sadly, our children have become lazy and gone are the days of outside cricket matches with the neighborhood kids or playing hide and seek until mom comes to call you.

The "play" of choice today is X box, television, cellphones and Internet. Not only do these gadgets fry your child's developing brain but promote inactivity. Parents need to take a firm stance and limit "gadgets". Make it a habit to spend at least an hour doing a fun physical activity and get them interested and involved in sport.

Not only will it keep them out of trouble but will help to prevent childhood obesity! We love all our children and want the best for them. By promoting healthy active lifestyles, hopefully all parents can do their bit to prevent childhood obesity.

Teenage Obesity

The incidence of teenage obsity has increased dramatically, despite the fact that we live in a culture where thin is beautiful. In our present society, thin is the only acceptable way to be, yet over half of the population of countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are overweight, and indeed around 20% of that group fall into the obese category.

With so much emphasis on appearance, it is hardly surprising that young people, especially young women are self-conscious about their looks. Celebrities are in the news all the time and many magazines take great delight in pointing out their physical "flaws", particularly when it comes to weight.

This creates a huge problem for teenagers, especially girls, who are expected to have the perfect figure, yet are constantly exposed to junk food, advertised in the same publications which are criticizing stars for having put on a few pounds. Of course, being constantly bombarded with these messages is difficult for everyone who struggles with their weight, but for young people who are still growing and at the same time trying to establish their identify as adults, it can be overpowering.

Young people need to be aware of the fact that they are worth individuals, irrespective of their weight or looks. They also need to learn about healthy eating, which will help them to avoid the extremes of over-strict dieting and obesity. A lack of self-esteem and fear of putting on weight can lead to eating disorders and so young people should be encouraged to have a healthy attitude towards their bodies and food.

If you have teenage children and are concerned about their weight, it is important to set a good example, by teaching them to cook healthy yet tasty meals – and eating properly yourself. You should also refrain from criticizing their appearance and encourage them to develop their strengths and do the things they enjoy in life.
Teenage obesity often leads to adult obesity, so do not think they'll grow out of it.

© Waller Jamison 2007

Benefits of Obesity – You Are Kidding Right?

A surprising side effect to being obese is that it can actually protect the heart in people who already have heart disease. For these few rare individuals, they tend to live longer and do better than thin people with the same heart disease.

Known as a paradox, it appears to be the result of a combination of the impact on an obese person's fat cells and their metabolic functions. This is a relatively new development and little is known about the exact causes or reasons. Researchers guess that since the person is already overweight, then their body is used to working harder to fight off diseases.

They have more reserves stored up so they have a better chance at fighting off the disease. It is also speculated that since these people are more out of shape than their skinnier counterparts, they are more prone to showing symptoms earlier which leads to an earlier diagnoses.

Although obesity is known to be the leading cause of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, and heart disease, these people show a less likelihood of having heart attacks or strokes. Doctors are quick to point out that gaining weight is not the answer for thinner people though. The protective factor comes in to play with overweight and obese people who have been like that for a long period of time. If a thin person were to suddenly gain a lot of weight, it would have adverse effects and be more likely to cause health issues for them.

In either case, it is still recommended that obese people try to lose weight for the benefit of their hearts. The more weight they can lose, the better it is for their heart. They are also more likely to exercise more, which in turn exercises the heart and makes it stronger. They just have to remember not to overdo it. People who are able to make the changes necessary to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose some weight, can reduce their risk of developing heart disease.

It is growing trend in America that our waistbands are expanding. Instead of advances in health care extending our lives, our expanding waistlines are cutting them shorter. Researchers are trying to isolate the gene that causes obesity so that it can be stopped from ever beginning.

If they can find this gene, they may also be able to find a cure and help those that already afflicted with obesity. Another possible benefit would be isolating why being overweight can protect the heart. Consequently leading to finding benefits for everyone with heart diseases, regardless of size.

No matter what size their patients are, doctors should always recommend a change in diet and exercise. This has been proven as a beneficial treatment for everyone. Thirty to forty minutes of activity a day is recommended. People also have to start limiting their intake of salt and bad fats that are all found in processed and convenience foods. Adding fresh fruits, vegetables, leaner proteins, and whole grains helps everyone maintain better heart health.

Frequent family meals promote good nutritional health in children

Breakfast at home: for the positive effects of family meals, it doesn’t matter at what time of the day parents and children sit down together for a meal. Credit: fotolia / Lumina Images

Successful obesity prevention starts at home – at the family dinner table. The results of a meta-analysis conducted at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and the University of Mannheim have been published in Obesity Reviews.

Eating habits are formed early in life. Family meals have huge potential as a learning environment, where parents can demonstrate healthy eating habits and children can learn about nutrition and food preparation in general. The results of a meta-analysis conducted by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and the University of Mannheim show that frequent family meals are associated with lower body mass index (BMI) and healthy diet in children. These relationships held irrespective of the country of the study and the children’s age. It did not matter whether families ate breakfast, lunch, or dinner together, or whether meals were taken with just one parent or the whole family.

Parents as nutritional gatekeepers

“Childhood is a unique window of opportunity for countering detrimental eating and lifestyle habits. Parents act as ‘nutritional gatekeepers’ in that they have a substantial influence on when, what, and how much children eat. So family meals offer a rich learning environment for setting up healthy eating habits in children,” says lead author Mattea Dallacker of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development. But family meals are not a silver bullet. The exact mechanisms underlying the relationship between frequent family meals and better eating habits remain unclear. “The current research indicates that it’s not just the quality of food that’s important, but that psychological and behavioral factors also play a role. For example, mealtime routines such as positive parental role modeling or a pleasant atmosphere could improve children’s eating habits,” says co-author Jutta Mata from the University of Mannheim.

Challenges for working mothers and fathers

In their meta-analysis, the researchers evaluated 57 studies with more than 200,000 participants worldwide. The analysis synthesized data from studies examining the relationship between family meals and children’s nutritional health, measured in terms of body mass index (BMI), the number of portions of fruit and vegetables eaten per day (as an indicator of healthy diet), and consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, fast food, and salty snacks (as indicators of an unhealthy diet). The influence of factors such as age, socio-economic status, type of family meal, and the number of family members eating together was also examined.

“Given the increasing trend for both parents to work, putting regular family meals on the table is a daily challenge for many families. In this context, it’s important to note that initial findings indicate that other communal meals, such as school lunches, can also have positive effects on children’s eating habits. For instance, one study showed that teachers can also serve as positive role models when eating together with their students,” says Ralph Hertwig, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and co-author of the study.

Explore further:
Eating together as a family helps children feel better, physically and mentally

More information:
M. Dallacker et al. The frequency of family meals and nutritional health in children: a meta-analysis, Obesity Reviews (2018). DOI: 10.1111/obr.12659

Journal reference:
Obesity Reviews

Provided by:
Max Planck Society

Childhood Obesity – Dealing With an Overweight Kid

Obesity has become a serious problem among the youth of today. In the USA – 1 child out of every 3 is facing obesity, which is known to lead to Type 2 diabetes. Although it is still an uncommon disease among children, there has been an alarming increase in the number of cases reported since 2002. This disease is very severe in children: it progresses more rapidly than in adults and is harder to treat. Children become immune to the insulin treatment. Health care professionals are unsure why this disease is so hard to control in children and teens, but they are attributing this to their rapid growth and intestinal hormonal changes at puberty. Diabetes is not the only serious condition – obese children are also struggling with heart disease and high blood pressure – which could be avoidable through a healthy diet and normal exercise.

In addition to these severe diseases – many overweight children suffer from weakened joints, sleep apnea (which makes them drowsy in class) and even bladder control issues since the excess belly fat pushes on their bladder. They need to leave class frequently to use the bathroom, which leads to more ridicule and missed class time.

As if these physical aspects of living with obesity were not enough, children face another challenge, the emotional toll. Bullying is a very common problem for obese kids, which in turn affects their learning – which is evident by the standardized tests showing that children who are obese score much lower. It lowers their self esteem and most likely creates psychological problems beyond the physical ones. As you can imagine, it's a fast spiral downwards for any child who is dealing with obesity.

It's quite obvious, we need to get this problem under control because it is quickly becoming an epidemic. This responsibility lies on the shoulders of the care giving adults in the lives of this at risk kids. Healthy eating habits need to be mandatory and should be practiced as well as preached. There are many resources available now to families with the internet at everyone's finger tips.

First, it is important not to constantly talk about your child's weight. Instead, offer positive ideas to help them get on track. Do not talk about your own diet plan and weight. Get the whole family involved and be positive and supportive. Start eating right yourself and be an example to your child. Plan family events that require physical activities: take walks together, ride bikes, play catch, walk your dog – make it a routine.