In a country where 270 million people still live below the poverty line, obesity seems a rather far-off issue. However, with the rise of a sedentary lifestyle and junk food, India is now home to the third largest number of obese people in the world, according to a study published in the premium medical journal – The Lancet.

Why is childhood obesity on the rise?

There are numerous factors which lead to childhood obesity, some of which are beyond prevention, but control is possible.

  • Genetics: They play a major role in the growth of children. Obesity problems can affect a child at a very tender age, which may create problems in the future. Complications like, diabetes, thyroid, heart diseases, are more likely to occur at a later stage.
  • Diet: High-calorie consumption, and increased intake of junk foods, contributes to weight gain. Children fall victims to snacking, resulting in eating more than necessary.
  • Psychological issues: Many-a-times, children tend to deal with their own problems and turn to food as a coping mechanism. Family situations like divorce, or loss of a loved one, affect the child mentally.
  • Lack of Physical Activity: From playing on the cricket ground, children have now resorted to play cricket on the EA Sports. Spending most of the time on computers, video games and television, makes them inactive, leading to weight gain eventually.

What can parents do to help?

Parents are responsible for a child’s well-being and they play a major role in curing their health problems.

  • Promote healthy food habits:

Healthy eating habits can be encouraged, by providing children with a balanced diet. The proper amount of nutrition, from the right sources, aid in children’s growth, keeping health problems at bay.

  • Try alternatives:

Instead of ordering a pizza every time the child demands for his favourite food, bake one at home. This way you can control the amount of calories, and diminish the artificial substances that go into the food.

  • Don’t give into temptations:

Once in a while, treats are fine. However, eating a calorie-rich treat every time they crave one is unhealthy. Try replacing the treats like cakes or doughnuts, with fruits.

  • Encourage Physical Activity:

Teaching kids, the importance of being physically active is a must. Cultivating habits like swimming, playing football, dancing, helps keep them swift and lowers their sedentary time.

Puppy fat or obesity?

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the past 30 years. Unless it is quite significant, it is difficult to examine a weight problem with the child. Most of the times parents discard the signs for kids being ‘chubby’ however, this is where awareness is required. It is important to keep track of your child’s BMI (Body Mass Index) and work towards maintaining it at normal levels according to their age.

While losing weight is difficult, diminishing the calories all at once, could affect the child mentally. Making them aware, and being supportive throughout the journey, might help in the long run.

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