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How can Parents solve Child Obesity?

How can Parents solve Child Obesity?

During our research project at AIIMS Delhi, we used to make the obese children fill out a psychological questionnaire too. One of the questions was, “do other children tease you because of high weight ?”.

The most frequent answer used to be, “no others are also obese, some of them more than me”.

That is how serious this problem has become.

Believe it or not, children are copycats. They learn from their surroundings and the exposure provided to them. We often fuss about things like; my child started swearing after hearing from the building guard.

Causes of Child Obesity

1.      Genes -

Often in families where obesity is already prevalent, children become comfortable with it. Even parents start telling it runs in the family, nothing much can be done about it. In this scenario, we can encourage the children to beat obesity by making small efforts together as a family.

2.     Psychology-

In families where the child is the first one to get obese, the child is already feeling low and depressed by this. There was a time when children were bullied by friends and family for the same. Thanks to the “No Body-shaming Movement” we have overcome this problem slightly. Although in most places, it still exists.

 3.     Consumerism-

Family still may be trying to encourage weight loss, but usually, it doesn’t work. We tend to scold our children or blame them. We blame their phones/ processed food addiction. What we forget is, we bought these consumer goods for them in the first place.

4.     Clean house-

People do not like to invite families with children nowadays. Their clean decorated house will become dirty. They don’t want their children to play on grounds for the same reason. It is cleaner to switch on the WiFi and give the child a laptop or phone to play with.

5.     Lockdown and Online school-

Screen time has unfortunately merged with studies. Children start viewing screens for recreation too in between, without realizing how long they have wasted their playtime.

6.     Disease-

Some diseases can cause weight gain e.g. monogenic obesity. Misbalance of hormones like adrenal hormones, thyroid hormones, etc. can also lead to obesity.

How do I get my Obese Child to lose Weight?

The solution is simple in case disease is not involved. Diet and lifestyle. Few points to consider are as follows:

1.     Visit a nutritionist-

To understand the solution to obesity without hampering the ideal growth of the child it is very important to consult a professional.

2.     Make Gradual Changes -

Don’t force your child to follow a new diet and lifestyle schedule, make gradual changes so that he/ she doesn’t find it a burden.

3.     Do not Scold your Child -

The child is suffering enough trauma due to obesity. Reward-based encouragement will be a better way to deal with eating. For e.g. your child wants to watch a Disney movie.  Tell him, you will take him to the movie next Sunday if he eats 1 bowl of fruits every day till then.

4.     Become the superhero-

It is easier for the child to change his habits if everyone is doing so, or at least parents are making equal efforts. He/ she is not going to enjoy his bowl of fruit if his father is having ice cream in front of him. Trust me hell will break loose if a sibling is allowed to do things he isn’t.  

5.     Help him/ her to become playful-

Instead of planning outings like movies and dinners, plan picnics and treks.  

6.     Invite cousins over-

Let the house become messy sometimes. Children enjoy other children's company. Let them play and be happy. It is most important for a journey to be happy to make it successful. If the child is not enjoying the changes, he won’t do it, and we will lose to the tantrums.

Hope you have noticed, your child eats baingan bharta with cousins which he otherwise refuses to eat.

7.     Hide healthy options in tasty ones-

One of my relatives used to tell me, every vegetable which my son refuses to eat I add in Sambhar which he loves. She adds brinjal, pumpkin, etc to the same. Same way if the child doesn’t like lauki, one can grate with ginger add certain masalas and knead wheat flour and make parathas with less ghee.

If you interact with our team, we will give a lot of such options.

8.     Keep an eye on screen viewing-

Once you notice that the online classes or schoolwork is over, make your child do chores or engage him/ her in interesting talks/ games.

9.     Try to impart some spiritual knowledge-

The importance of praying can be understood much later in life. Small efforts will help your child become punctual and have a healthy lifestyle.

Tell the child Bhagwan ji wants us to take bath early in the morning before breakfast and pray. That will start a good day for your child. Once waking up early and fresh the child would like to eat breakfast on time.

Say small stories from the spiritual world which emphasize good living.

In Ramayana, when the children go to Gurukul, the first lesson their teacher gives them is to eat healthily and do yoga, which will help you to acquire knowledge better. One can choose similar stories from any faith they believe in.

In short, let the child enjoy the process and become a happy human being.

For more health and diet related articles, visit our BLOGS section.

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