The fight against childhood obesity



Now in the United Kingdom, nearly a quarter of children starting school are classed as overweight. These children face years of health problems but it is a problem that can be sorted out if parents will recognise the fact that they have an overweight child. A fat child is not healthy, but unhealthy. We have to act now; gradual changes of habits are the key as well as being very sensitive to children's feelings. Of course parents too need to lead by example.

Children on the whole will know that they are overweight and will feel sensitive about it. Talk about getting fitter, stronger, and healthier with your child Do not talk about losing weight or looking more attractive as this can cause problems in the future.

Children are very sensitive and although some young boys may act tough they are very easily wounded and children's confidence is very fragile. So you need to deal with the situation in a positive manner and lead by example. Never nag or tease them about their weight or they will just feel just awful. They do know they are overweight and do not need attention drawn to it. If you buy loads of sweets and treats they will eat them. Sugar creates imbalances in energy that can contribute to erratic behaviour, hyperactivity and mood changes.  
 
Teach your child about marketing of unhealthy fast food and factory made food.
Show them what happens to a baby tooth when it is left in a glass of cola over night.
Look at labels with them: a fruit drink with only 6 per cent fruit juice and 94 percent water and sugar is not a healthy fruit drink. If you cannot read the words on the label or do not know what they mean do you think they are good food?
 
Teach children that fast food is only a weekly treat.  Do not single out the child make the whole family healthy. Lead by example; let your child see you enjoying fruit and vegetables. It is also important not to push children to eat more food when they feel full.  Do not use food as a reward or to comfort.  Teach your child that food is what his/her body needs to run on for fuel and to make new parts like bones and muscle. Eat meals together as a family and discuss each other's day. Get into a habit of sharing problems. Parents who over-feed young children can lead them to weight problems in later life

Young babies should be introduced to pureed vegetables and fruit when the doctor advises they are ready to be weaned. Try making your children a healthy, brightly coloured fruit salad ready for them to eat when they return home from school. Teach your child that a colourful plate of food is a healthy plate of food. Treats are for holidays and special occasions. Have treats to look forward to such as Friday croissants for the family who eat healthy cereals during weekdays.

All changes should be made gradually and after full discussion with your child. Stop offering sweetened beverages, except on special days. Help your child to find sources of comfort, pleasure, and fun other than food. Hobbies, sports, and clubs can relieve boredom  Limit television viewing. For the average child, watching television to a maximum of 2 hours per day of screen time is recommended. Teach your child to "Just Say No!" to excess food and junk food.  Praise him or her when they resist temptation. All eating at home needs to occur at the table, even snacking.  No nibbling in front of the television, no box of cookies in the bedroom,  no dish of ice cream at the computer

If you buy lots of treats and your child eats them then you are part of the problem. Make time to cook with your children so they can learn how to make real food. Make eating meals a happy family occasional as a family.

It will be no good asking your child, "Why don't you switch off the video and go and play some tennis?" But you could say, "Let's go to the park together".  Most overweight children do not need to diet they just need you to help them make gradual changes to their eating habits; and as they grow taller and take exercise they will lose the weight as they grow in height.

Taking exercise and making exercise fun is the key to good health. Children should be encouraged to have one hour of exercise or outdoor play per day. 

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