31 October 2007


Obese children unfortunately become obese adults. And obesity leads to a variety of heart ailments blood pressure, diabetes and many other diseases. Inactivity and a sedentary lifestyle coupled with bad eating habits give rise to obesity. Many school going children today are becoming fatter by the day. These spend more time playing video games with very little or no outside games or view too much TV and of course consume more than necessary for their age and that too, junk food.
As parents it is our duty to monitor the steps that need to be taken for prevention of obesity in our children.

Abolish Soft Drinks
The biggest step of all! Most children love carbonated soft drinks. But it has no nutritional value, just empty calories. But if your child is already into having soft drinks with every meal, it is going to be very difficult to give up.

Elimination of these drinks from your child’s diet may be a difficult process, depending upon age and the amount of consumption. If the child is at an age where he or she does not yet make a choice in what is consumed, then the process is easy. This is where you simply stop giving these drinks to the child, replacing them with more healthy alternatives. Where children are old enough to help themselves, it is important to ensure that no soft drinks are available. Stock your refrigerator with low-fat milk, water, or fruit juices made from real fruit.
Remember, children learn by example. Be a role model for your child by opting for healthier drinks like fruit juices, low fat milk, buttermilk,etc. at home or when ordering in a restaurant.
What we are essentially doing here is just altering the thought processes in choosing healthier alternatives. This step is important in achieving and maintaining weight.

Restrict Fast Food

For children who are already showing signs of obesity, it is best to completely eliminate things such as hamburgers, fried chicken, chips, milkshakes and other fattening products from fast food restaurants. However, if this has been part of the child’s routine, it may be difficult. Although scientific literature gives no specific recommendations, it is believed among nutritional experts that fast food is acceptable on a once per week basis.
It is not necessary to totally eliminate takeaway food from the diet but rather to help the child to make healthier choices. Many fast food restaurants are now listening to public opinion and providing a healthier range of food rather than just the traditional range that they are renowned for.
To totally eliminate fast food would be unrealistic as there is also a social connection, particularly in the older children. Often this is a meeting place for friends and it would be hard for the child to resist temptation. It is crucial therefore, that parents ensure their child understands how the traditional fast foods contribute to obesity.

Limit Television Viewing

It would be unrealistic to think of eliminating television from your child’s life not to mention deprivation. There are many programs on television these days that are beneficial to your child’s development. However, it is important to limit television viewing as well as other technology such as DVDs and internet.
Researchers advocate no television at all for children under two and no more than two hours per day for children over two. This also applies to other media technology though internet surfing for homework purposes could be exempt. Remember also that if your child is spending a lot of time on the internet, it is important to have internet security software for their protection.
Another way of restricting television viewing is to only have a television in the family room rather than allowing your child to have one in the bedroom.
Dinner time is for enjoying the meal and also for enjoying the company and closeness of family. Turn the television off to promote conversation.

Promote Physical Activity
Normally children love outdoor play of any kind. But, some children do not want to engage in any games for a variety of reasons. Parents should encourage such children by taking them for short walks and later enrolling them to be coached in an outdoor game of their choice. Once they make friends with like minded peers, they will learn not just the game, but will improve academically, and learn team play, fairness, and will never become obese. The key here is everything is done in a fun atmosphere and children will look forward to their playtime.
It is therefore in everybody’s interests for measures such as the abolition of soft drinks and fatty fried foods, sweets and chips and any other obesity producing foods to be banned from school tuck shops and in other areas where children frequently purchase foods. Advocating for our children’s health and for the future of this generation is of the utmost importance.

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