The problem of overweight is serious not only for modern adults but also for their children. The prerequisites are many: sedentary lifestyle, fast food, junk food, constant use of technological gadgets.
So, instead of walking, playing and communicating, the children sit, watch and … eat. At the same time, the child grows, develops, so you can not put him on a solid diet and stay hungry. Adolescent obesity should not be underestimated and timely measures save a lot of problems in the future.
When does childhood obesity most often occur?
An important question that parents ask is at what age the child should pay special attention to his weight. In the process of the child’s development, the fat in his body accumulates unevenly. It is actively formed during the first 9 months of life, then the process stabilizes, at age 5-7 years there are small increases and intensively accumulate during puberty. There are three critical periods:
- early childhood (0-3 years);
- preschool age (5-7 years);
- adolescence or puberty (12 to 17 years);
What should parents do if they find that their child is older than normal?
Not all overweight children need immediate dietary therapy. In moderately overweight and even in the early stages of obesity it is enough to increase physical activity and exclude high-calorie foods from the diet, containing very fast carbohydrates and fats.
But, of course, only a doctor can assess the child’s development, his heredity, the dynamics of changes in the ratio of body weight to height. If the child is overweight, then diet therapy is an important point in the overall approach to treatment of obesity. At all degrees of obesity, a child of any age in the first place needs a diet that meets his physiological norms.
There are several main factors that influence the appearance of overweight in children:
- Wrong attitude to food. Often mothers feed their children abundantly on their own, believing that a good appetite is a sign of health. You can often hear: eat well, there is extra.
- Sedentary lifestyle Modern children, instead of playing outdoors, sit near the computer, play electronic games, and many parents encourage this. Lack of movement, quite naturally, leads to weight gain.
- Heredity Obese parents from the first days should take care of the baby’s weight, paying special attention to it.
They are often combined for several reasons for the appearance of overweight at once. Then the risk of obesity is higher and the earlier measures are taken, the happier the child will be. You can determine overweight by appearance, body index or simply by showing the child to the doctor.
Don’t panic ahead of time. Overweight and obesity can be considered a serious problem from the age of 10, because by this age any fluctuations in the weight of the actively growing person are possible.
If the child is over 10 years old and is still overweight, it is worth showing it to an endocrinologist for examination. If significant overweight persists after 15 years, the risk that the child will be overweight as an adult is quite high.
Why is being overweight harmful in childhood?
If he is overweight, the child faces a number of problems. Childhood obesity is the main risk factor for developing obesity in the future. Secondly, the presence of overweight in children and adolescents is undoubtedly the cause of concomitant health problems, sometimes serious. One of the possible results is a deformity of the fragile spine.
Childhood obesity can lead to early heart problems. Metabolic disorders are also possible, the pancreas cannot cope with the work, there is a risk of diabetes. Overweight children often learn worse and develop mentally worse.
One cannot ignore the fact that being overweight hinders social adaptation in children’s groups. Such children are often the object of ridicule, which leads to the formation of emotional disorders.
Obesity in adolescence
Elements of risky behavior, such as harmful eating habits and stagnant life, apply in full force to modern teenagers. The risk of obesity is especially high in girls, because their body goes through many changes.
Children often get complexes because of their vision. This happens especially often in adolescence. An inferiority complex is developing, which can remain in adulthood.
The best way to treat obesity is to eat healthy and exercise regularly.
A factor that has a huge influence on eating behavior, especially among teenagers, are modern beauty standards, generally oriented towards adults. Models and other stars from the show business with thin bodies become role models for children. This can send the teenager to the other extreme.
After systematic overeating to move to unhealthy starvation. For some teenage girls this forms the basis for the development of anorexia. For the vast majority, this means the beginning of dietary behavior, which due to the body’s natural resistance to diet, leads to weight fluctuations – the so-called “yo-yo effect”.
How to change your child’s eating habits?
Different weight loss methods have been developed for children of different ages. It is important for parents to follow the recommendations of specialists, so as not to aggravate the problem.
In children under the age of three, a consultation with a pediatrician is required. Most often the cause lies in endocrine disorders or overeating. It is enough to balance the diet to check the work of the endocrine system.
In preschool and primary school age, it is difficult to control nutrition, as the child often eats outside the home. At home, more and more often the “independent” kid starts pulling food from his parents’ plates to his mouth. The whole family needs to switch to a healthy diet and control the child’s eating.
In order not to feel insurmountable hunger, the child can switch to eating three times a day with two snacks, but in moderate amounts of food intake and emphasis on healthy products. It is recommended to consume more fruits and vegetables and limit the consumption of sugary drinks. With this food rhythm the food is digested more easily and the results will quickly become visible.
Proper distribution of calorie foods during the day is also a very important point. Higher calorie foods (meat, fish, eggs) are included in the diet in the first half of the day, and in the second – easily digestible: dairy and vegetables. The caloric content of the diet is reduced due to carbohydrates and animal fats, and the amount of protein must correspond to the physiological norm.
The menu should have sources of protein: lean meat, fish, eggs, milk and low-fat dairy products. Cream, high-fat cheeses and fatty meats are limited or completely excluded.
The amount of carbohydrates in the daily diet decreases in proportion to the degree of obesity. Fast carbohydrates are excluded: confectionery, white sugar , etc. Not recommended and semolina, potatoes, white wheat bread, pasta. The child will receive carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables.
Natural unsweetened juices and dried fruits can be consumed. To reduce appetite, you should exclude spices, ready-made broths, fried foods, salty and smoked meats. It is best to steam, boil or stew food. Fast food should be eliminated completely.
The diet depends a lot on the food culture in the family, because it includes not only the rules of table behavior, but also the notion of the usefulness or harm of certain products. It is also important how meals are held in families.
During dinner in front of a TV or tablet, food is swallowed automatically, sometimes in unlimited quantities. In this case, the child constantly overeats without noticing how much he has eaten. Experts advise parents not to use food as a reward or punishment.
The child should not be comforted by something “tasty” if he is upset. In this way, he learns to mix comfort and food and this is the way to emotional overeating in adulthood. It is not good to introduce strict and complete bans on certain foods. This can increase the child’s interest in them. .
The child’s physical activity should be stimulated, not his appetite. Sport is very important for children because it will help to burn calories and will be good prevention of other diseases associated with physical inactivity. Maybe it is good for the mother or father to start training with their child, to be more convincing in their advice.
One of the difficulties parents face is their child’s reluctance to go on a diet. Young patients may simply refuse to eat foods that are uninteresting to them. To deal with this problem would help a nutritionist who will competently compile the child’s diet. It can include many delicious dishes and his favorite foods, but at the same time the diet will be completely balanced.
Meeting with a psychologist will help him understand what is overweight and why it is necessary to part with it. Without traumatizing the child’s psyche, the specialist motivates the patient. The psychologist can help the child to look adequately and positively at his weight and related problems and would give an incentive to fight overweight.
And one more piece of advice to parents: Accept your child with any weight. Criticism and rejection of an overweight child, as well as regret and dissatisfaction with such an “outsider” will only lead to the formation of depressive or anxiety disorders in the child, destroying your contact with him and worsening existing eating disorders.