Young children do look cuddly with 'baby fat', but there are good reasons for taking a closer look at your child's weight to prevent obesity.
Studies in recent years show that there is an increase in the number of children suffering from obesity. Generally, a child can be considered obese if his weight is at least 10% higher than what is recommended for the child's height and body type. If left unmanaged, a child's excess weight may lead to serious illnesses, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and breathing problems.
Obesity can also affect your child's self esteem, as playmates may poke fun at his physical appearance.
Obesity starts to set in when a child consumes more calories than his body burns up. This could be due to a number or combination of causes:
Luckily for children, their young bodies are able to burn calories more effectively than most adults so that putting a child under a weight management program at the soonest time should yield positive results. While a weight loss plan may differ from person to person, a successful one must include some basic changes such as the following:
Better food choices
If you don't buy it, your child won't eat it. Your child is likely to eat anything that you have in your cupboard. Change your child's eating habits by refraining from buying junk food like chips, cakes, biscuits and sweets. Replace these foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt with fresh fruits, vegetable crackers, and grains. Prepare healthy meals at home instead of reaching for fast food items like greasy pizzas, burgers, doughnuts - or anything deep fried. These foods are fine in moderation, but too often these days they are becoming the staple diet of kids.
If getting your child to eat vegetables is a problem, explore creative ways to incorporate veggies into ordinary dishes like spaghetti, lasagna, frittata, omelet or burritos.
People, children included, tend to stop eating only when there is nothing left to eat. The problem is that most food sold in stores and restaurants are super-sized. Chips often come in giant bags while restaurants treat their diners to huge portions that are meant for sharing.
The more food your child eats during a meal, the more calories he accumulates in his body. To lose weight, your child must reduce his daily calorie intake while increasing his calorie-burning activities.
While total deprivation of your child's favourite foods is not recommended, it is best to teach your child to eat his meals in smaller portions. Try serving your child's meal in a smaller plate which will make the food on his plate appear ample without depriving him of nourishment.
When eating out, try asking the staff to serve only half of your child's favourite meal and have the other half wrapped as take-out. That way, your child will not be tempted to consume everything that he sees on his plate.
Children also tend to have snacks in between meals. Set reasonable intervals between the last meal and snack time and observe portion control so that your child does not sabotage his eating plan by bingeing in between meals.
Increase physical activity
Aside from changing your child's eating habits, you should encourage your child to engage in some activity regularly in order to burn more calories. Get your child out of the couch or bed. Set a limit for playing with console or computer games. Playing video games and excessive computer use have been closely linked to excessive weight gain and obesity in kids.
On the other hand, playing ballgames, biking, swimming, and other recreational sports will not only keep your child healthy and fit, but will also help develop his self esteem.