Childhood obesity is a menace! And right now, it’s so bad that one out of every five American children is considered clinically obese as early on as primary school.((Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Childhood Obesity Facts)) And although this problem is more prominent in developed and developing countries, it’s an issue of global significance.Raising fat kids isn’t a pretty sight and certainly no parent wants their children to be overweight or obese. But here’s the kicker – most kids become fat because of their parents!((Live Science: Parents Blamed for Childhood Obesity)) Yeah…I know you didn’t mean to – but if your kid is fat, you’re mostly responsible.There’s no need to beat yourself up though, because you can totally redeem yourself – starting today!In this article, I’ll show you how you’ve been unconsciously making your kid fat, why childhood fatness is such a big deal and most importantly and how to help your kids stay healthy. So, sit back and relax as I take you through practical steps that will help you in raising healthy kids.
Why fatness in kids is such a big deal
Childhood obesity isn’t receiving so much attention for no reason. An overweight or obese child is at an obvious disadvantage for so many reasons. Here are some of them:
It can cause a wide range of health problems.
Excessive weight has been linked to so many health challenges including type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, asthma,((Asthma Research and Study: Asthma and obesity: mechanisms and clinical implications)) joint pain and even sleeping disorders.((Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Tips for Parents – Ideas to Help Children Maintain a Healthy Weight))By being overweight, your kid has a higher chance of coming down with any of these conditions and that of course, is really bad news.
It increases the risk of obesity and mortality in adulthood.
Research has shown that kids who are clinically obese have a significantly higher chance of being overweight when they become adults.((Journal of Nutrition & Food Sciences: Home Environment and Children Obesity: What a Parent has to Do)) And unfortunately, obesity has also been linked to increased mortality, which means overweight people tend to have a shorter life span.
It can lead to a low self-esteem and social stigma.
Overweight kids also tend to get bullied in school and this experience can be very traumatic.As the person gets older, the negative experiences of their childhood and the associated social stigma may result in a low self-esteem and even depression. And in very bad cases, it may even lead to suicide!Okay, now that we’ve established why fat kids are at an obvious disadvantage, let’s move on to how parents unwittingly get their children fat.
How parents inadvertently make their kids fat
There are so many “regular stuff” that parents do on daily basis that have a direct negative impact on their children’s weight and general health. Some of them include:
Being a bad example
Okay, listen – as a parent, you’re a hero to your kids! That means they watch every move you make and look up to you for everything. So, if you’re an overweight parent, then you’re sending a simple message to your kids – it’s okay to be fat. And since they want to be like you, they also begin to add weight.In the same way, kids watch the things you do (or don’t do) and will try to emulate you. So, if you’re the type of person who seldom exercises and adores junk foods, your children will most likely follow suit. Unfortunately though, this lifestyle results in fat accumulation, which eventually causes weight problems.
Being “too busy to cook”
Yeah – the world we live in is becoming more and more fast-paced. And if you’re not careful, it’s easy to consider activities like cooking, a time-wasting chore. So, you’d probably prefer asking Alexa to order you a pizza rather than spending 1 hour in the kitchen to prepare a healthy meal.But here’s the thing – most fast foods qualify as junk foods, which makes them very unhealthy. And if you’re raising your children on a diet of pizza, fries and ice cream, then you can be sure of one thing – you’ll end up with fat kids!
Keeping kids busy with TV
If you condemn your kids to watching TV or playing video games because you’re “too busy” to attend to them, they’ll most likely develop a weight problem down the line. TV is bad for so many reasons. For starters, more TV time encourages a sedentary lifestyle, which directly reduces the amount of time spent on physical activities.((Harvard Review: Television Watching and “Sit Time”))Furthermore, watching TV for extended periods of time encourages uncontrolled snacking on unhealthy foods, which directly results in fatness. A recent study has also shown that apart from the sedentary lifestyle and snacking induced by TV, the exposure to billions of dollars’ worth of junk food ads also plays a huge role in increasing junk food cravings and consequently fatness.((Parents: Fat Kids: What’s Really to Blame?))
Giving unhealthy foods as a reward for a good behavior
When you promise to give your child ice cream as a reward for eating his veggies, he/she immediately gets an impression – ice cream is great and vegetables are just a means to an end. And as your kid continues to live with this notion, the love for junk foods inherently increases and this eventually leads to excessive fat accumulation down the line.
Encouraging kids to stay indoors
While it isn’t a good idea to leave your kids roaming around the neighborhood without supervision, it’s equally a bad idea to keep them confined indoors!Keeping your kids “locked up” in the house encourages them to be inactive and that can induce weight gain.
How to help your kids stay healthy
Alright! Leaving the negatives behind and moving forward – here are some practical tips that will help you keep your kids healthy.
1. Be a good role model
As I stated earlier, the impact of parents on the lifestyle choices of their children is unquantifiable. So, if you want to help your kids maintain a healthy weight, you need start with yourself.Go for walks and take your kids along. Eat healthy meals and let them see you do it. As they see you – their hero – doing all the right things, it won’t be long before they follow suit.
2. Give them healthy meals
Alright, this is very important, so pay attention! You are what you eat – the same is true for your kids.Eating healthy meals is a step you cannot afford to miss if you truly want your kids to maintain a healthy weight. Clean eating is the way to go when it comes to healthy eating, so you may want to start there.
3. Mind the portion sizes
While still on the topic of eating healthy, you need to also pay attention to “how much” food you give your kids.Family style often makes people fat without you even knowing.Kids should be encouraged to eat just what they can – not a morsel more! You shouldn’t make your kids clean out their plates because that may increase food cravings as they get older – and that of course, can result in weight problems.
4. Discourage Junk foods
Junk foods are bad…very bad! And you need to pass this message along to your kids in a very convincing manner.To start with, you need to clean out your pantry and refrigerator, and rid your home of junk foods.In addition, you should also encourage your kids to go for healthy foods in school when you give them money for snacks.
5. Make regular exercise a part of their routine
So, here’s the deal – if you’re seriously interested in your kids’ health, then you need to encourage them to exercise regularly.Noticed your son enjoys athletics? Get him on the school’s track team. Your little girl loves volleyball, talk to the school coach and get her on the volleyball team. Go for walks together, run around the house, give them chores to do…Just do everything you can to keep them physically active! That will help them to consistently burn calories and maintain a healthy weight.
6. Unplug the TV
As stated previously, TV can be very bad for kids. So, you need to limit their TV time as much as humanly possible.It is recommended that kids have no more than one hour of TV time per day. The same goes for video games, of course!
7. Make bed time mandatory
You may not know this but sleep actually helps in weight loss. So, set a specific bed time for your kids and make sure they stick to it.Generally, seven to nine hours of sleep is recommended for kids per night. And as they start sleeping better, they’ll start closing in on healthy weight.
8. Check their BMI regularly
If you rely on your eyes to tell when your child is getting fat, I hate to break it to you but you may be terribly deceived.So, as a more reliable option, check your child’s body mass index (BMI) regularly. This can be done through BMI calculators or at your local clinic.
The bottom line
Now it’s time for you to put all these tips into action — starting today! If you’re not sure whether or not your kids are fat, you should start by checking their BMI.Then you need to ban junk foods from your home, place your kids on a healthy diet, incorporate exercise into their routine and ward off anything that can send them on a downward spiral of obesity.You should also remember that you – as a parent – have a massive influence on the lifestyle choices of your kids.So, be a good role model by maintaining a normal weight yourself. And the end result will be improved health and happiness not only for the kids, but for your entire family.
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