Childhood Obesity

Hurray!! Thanks to cable TV, our children are getting real fat. Well, all the blame does not go only to the cable TV direction. A host of factors affect the Body mass index of a person: what you eat, physical activity, genetics, etc.

Fortunately, most of the factors that cause one to be overweight or obese are tweak-able at the level of mortals. Nowadays, people are so happy to be obese they nickname it “good living”. However, from where am standing, obesity is very far from good living.

Childhood obesity is on the rise, even in developing countries. Obesity is when you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of greater than 30. Some of its main risk factors (possible causes) are energy imbalance, genetics (it runs in the family), other health conditions, smoking, etc. Read more about Obesity here.

Food consumed is stored in the body (mostly as fat) when it is not expended. Through physical activity, we use up the food we eat. Nowadays, children live sedentary lifestyles with little exercise; they take the bus to and from school, they come home and eat a huge meal, they sit by the TV and watch the whole of the afternoon (even worse, they take junk food as the watch TV), Eat some more, go to bed. And we don’t expect them to get fat?

Sorry mums, but the confectioneries are too much – try what is called balanced diet. I must admit that, they are sweet and enticing, but if you must give it to your kids, then moderation is the key. I remember those days when mums used to prepare those delicious meals and package it for us to take to school and eat during break time. Well, those days are gone. Now, children are given money. Money which they use to purchase sweets because TV says sweets are sweet, or because friends buy it.

If childhood obesity had no negative effects, I wouldn’t waste my time writing all these. Apart from the fact that your children are ridiculed by their colleagues at school (causing fear, shame, low self esteem, etc), there are a host of other health problems: they likely grow up to become obese adults, get hypertension, diabetes, cancer, stroke, arthritis, respiratory problems and a host of other infections. If you want this package of illnesses for your child, fair enough.

All hope is not lost. You can remedy or prevent this situation. You can

  • Practice healthy eating habits (eat balance diet, chew food properly, allow much time before you sleep, avoid junk food, etc)
  • Indulge in physical activity (outdoor plays, household chores, exercise, etc)
  • Treat or manage underlying conditions
  • Lifestyle changes like quitting drinking  or smoking (this applies to the adult because  children don’t smoke – at least all the ones i know. They however inhale the smoke you bring out and learn from you)
  • Provide as supportive an environment as you can. School, religion, media, government policies, etc affect us all in many ways. There are a lot you can influence, others you cannot, but regulate what you children watch, educate the children and ensure the education is done at school, etc.
  • See a health professional
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