Obesity in children is a common problem these days and is increasing due to changing lifestyle. Prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in India is approximately 20% which is comparable to US trends. Childhood obesity persists as obesity in adults and predisposes to all obesity-related complications. Obesity usually runs in families and is related poorly to genetic influences. There are various risk factors which predispose kids to obesity and overweight. Common contributing factors are excessive dietary intake, television watching, maternal obesity during pregnancy, and higher than normal weight gain during pregnancy. Obesity predisposes children to various diseases like hypertension, diabetes, stroke, obstructive sleep apnoea. Other than physical problems, obesity is associated with many psychosocial problems like peer teasing, isolation, depression and poor academic performance etc.
Measures to prevent obesity:
The primary goal for all children with obesity is to encourage healthy eating and activity habits. All including family, community, and government can contribute to decreasing the problem of obesity in both children and adults.
At Individual Level:
Physically active > 1 hr/day.
Limit screen time (including T.V, computers, video games) < 1-2 hours.
Eat 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables.
Decrease the intake of sweetened beverages.
Don’t miss the meals.
Eat healthy breakfast daily.
At Family Level:
Breastfeeding after birth is a good preventive measure of childhood obesity.
Encourage outdoor activities.
Fewer visits to restaurants and hotels.
Don’t reward children with food or drinks.
Eat on the table as a family.
Teach a child to restrict his food intake.
Decrease the size of the serving bowl.
Decrease overall consumption of sugar and ghee in the kitchen.
Avoid frying for cooking.
No juices or cold drinks in the refrigerator.
Family trips to park or walk together on holidays.