Prevent Childhood Obesity at an Early Age

Edited by Robbi

Many parents are concerned with childhood obesity. This health issue is a major concern on a global scale. Childhood obesity usually affects those who belong to middle- and low-income families in urban areas. It is a very alarming fact that many children under five years old are already diagnosed with obesity. Parents and guardians have to step up to the plate and do something about this worsening epidemic. Obese children tend to stay obese until they reach adulthood. This is when the condition takes a huge toll on them. Parents and guardians should know how to prevent childhood obesity as early as possible. This is the only way healthy eating habits and lifestyles can be established, even as a child. Of course, it can be a challenge to start and implement this, especially if the adults need help in this area as well. Nonetheless, responsibility enables people to move toward the precipice and here, change will definitely happen.

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Getting to Know Obesity

Obesity is a condition wherein the body accumulates too much fat, beyond normal levels. The excessive fat accumulation is a cause for various health conditions to spring up. It is not easy to measure obesity in adolescents and children because they are still undergoing various physiological and anatomical changes.

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Discovering obesity matters because it helps parents prevent the consequences of this condition. Obesity in children presents an elevated chance of disability and early death upon reaching adulthood.

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Non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes come into play early in life. These health issues depend on the period of obesity and the age of its onset. If childhood obesity is not controlled, the child will inevitably develop stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, colon cancer, breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and diabetes.

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The burden of childhood obesity is considered doubly complicated, especially in middle income and low-income families. They often also suffer from malnutrition and infectious diseases. At the same time, they have to deal with being overweight and obese. This complication is a result of poor pre-natal health, infant nutrition, and childcare. As the child grows, there is exposure to energy-dense, low nutrient, ad high fat foods. In addition, they also have very little physical exercise.

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Main Causes of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity is mainly the outcome of an imbalance of energy between the calories spent and the calories consumed. On a global scale, this health condition is affected by the following factors:

  1. 1
    The increasing frequency and adherence to sedentary living.
    This includes modes of transportation, high technology, and recreation.
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  2. 2
    The shift towards high-energy foods.
    These items are high in sugar and fat. Such foods are also low in micronutrients, minerals, and vitamins.
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  3. 3
    Social causes that bring about childhood obesity are the following:
     
    1. The development of social media, food processing, education, technology, and transportation. Children are now exposed to various developments in these areas that make them choose certain habits, foods, and drinks.
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  4. 4
    Children's limited choice of environment they live in.
    Unlike adults, children cannot choose what they eat or drink. They just take in what is given to them by their parents or guardians.
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  5. 5
    Children's inability to foresee the consequences of what they choose to take into their bodies.
    This makes it utterly important to provide special attention to them.
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How to Prevent Childhood Obesity as Early as Possible

General Guidelines

  1. 1
    Parents and guardians should encourage the intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, and legumes.
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  2. 2
    Intake of energy from fats should be limited.
    Unsaturated fats should be consumed instead of saturated fats.
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  3. 3
    Children should engage in regular physical exercises.
    At least an hour of exercise should be performed every day.
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Specific Methods

  1. 1
    Early education teachers, parents, and childcare providers should perform the following to help control childhood obesity as early as possible:
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  2. 2
    Have regular exercise.
    About 1 to 2 hours of daily exercise should be provided to children and adolescents. This includes playing outside if it is possible.
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  3. 3
    Television viewing should not be allowed for children under 2 years of age.
    It should only be about half an hour every week for children two years old and above. Older children should be encouraged to watch television only up to two hours weekly.
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  4. 4
    Vegetables and fruits should be served with every main meal.
    Every meal should be suitable to the taste of the entire family. Fried foods should not be served.
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  5. 5
    Water should be served all day.
    Never serve high sugar drinks. Low fat or non-fat milk should be given to children at least two years of age. Only 4-6 oz. of juice should be served daily.
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  6. 6
    Breastfeeding mothers should continue giving breast milk to their infants even when they are left at a child care facility during the day.
    Breastfeeding is still possible even if the mother is working.
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  7. 7
    Those who provide childcare should educate the parents about eating and living healthy.
    A healthy environment should be given to children so that they may grow, play, and eat ideally. All foods and activities should be age-appropriate.
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  8. 8
    Sleep time should be adequate.
    Rest and sleep should always be a priority, to allow children to recuperate from their daily activities.
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How to Serve Healthy Drinks

  1. 1
    Clean drinking water should always be served instead of sugary drinks.
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  2. 2
    Only 4 to 6 ounces of juice should be given every day for children one to six years old.
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  3. 3
    Only pure juices should be served.
    Use cups in serving them only after meals.
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  4. 4
    To children more than two years old, pasteurized milk (two percent) or skim milk should be given.
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  5. 5
    To children less than two years old, whole milk (pasteurized) should be given.
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How to Provide Ideal Feeding to Infants

If you want to prevent childhood obesity as early as possible, you should start from infancy. Below are some pointers to take in feeding infants:

Giving Age-Appropriate Fluids to Younger Children and Infants

  1. 1
    Provide parents with information about breastfeeding services and resources within their community.
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  2. 2
    Establish a comforting and private place for mothers to breastfeed in malls or other common areas.
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  3. 3
    Refrain from incorporating other food items into milk formula, if it is not recommended by your healthcare provider.
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  4. 4
    Do not serve formula milk.
    Human milk should be given to infants until they reach the first year of life. Cow's milk should not be given until age one.
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  5. 5
    Do not give fruit juice to a child below the age of one.
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  6. 6
    Be sure to implement "responsive feeding".
     
    1. Perform breastfeeding when the infant makes sucking sounds and opens his or her mouth.
    2. Be aware of the infant's cues when he or she is already full to avoid excessive milk consumption. Cues can be closing of the mouth or turning the head away from the mother's nipple.
    3. Prop the infant up or keep the infant's head elevated while cradled in your arms. Never leave infants alone with their bottles filled with breast milk.
    4. Set a feeding time for each infant.
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Other Considerations

  1. 1
    Make sure that you remove televisions, computers, and gadgets in your child's sleep area.
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  2. 2
    Encourage your baby to sleep while drowsy.
    This is a good way of teaching them to sleep on their own.
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  3. 3
    Establish routine sleep activities.
    An example of this is reading bedtime books.
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Tips

  • Give sweets as treats and not as part of daily meals.
  • Prepare your kids' meals for school.
  • Help establish a healthy menu for the school cafeteria.
  • Always monitor what your child gets from the grocery shelves.
  • If you have problems with any of these steps, ask a question for more help, or post in the comments section below.
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