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This article is relavent for any parent who wants to give his child a healthy childhood free from obesity. Read more

Obesity is fast becoming a global problem with deadly repercussions. But being proactive can help you take charge of your child’s health, prevent obesity-related illnesses and reclaim physical well-being.

“So much chocolate is not good for you.” “Colas will make you fat!” why do parents actually say this, is something we all know, but how should the approach be, that is the question. With the increase in obesity figures worldwide, a child’s eating habits and his lethargic lifestyle creates constant tension among the parents. So, stopping the comfort foods is not the only solution or eliminating them from the sedentary lifestyle is not an easy task. A few changes in their lifestyle patterns can bring about a noteworthy difference to their health.

Often referred to as a modern epidemic, obesity can wreak havoc on your physical and psychological state. In India, more than 16 percent to 29 percent of an adolescent population is obese and this number is rising gradually. In India, over 15 million children are currently estimated to be overweight. In 2013, worldwide, nearly 42 million children were affected with overweight problems. Research shows that if the current trend continues to grow, there will be an outburst of obese population. Some studies have also revealed that globally, over 70 million infants and young children will fall into the obesity category by 2025.

The problem has not only created an havoc in western countries, even India is the latest victim of this hazardous disease. Study shows more than 15 million children in urban India are found to be obese. However, the prevalence is still far lower in rural India.

Dr Manish Motwani, renowned bariatric surgeon associated with Aastha Healthcare, said, “A majority of the children and adolescents lack sufficient muscle strength, flexibility, other skills and cardio-respiratory endurance. This could be attributed to school overload, television viewing, excessive use of computers, sedentary habits, poor and inadequate eating habits. In fact, almost one in five children and adolescents are overweight, and the numbers continue to rise. Obesity, today, has affected more than 30 percent of the younger population, making it the most common chronic disease in childhood. Obesity brings with it a plethora of other ailments among children.”

“Children who are obese often experience problems that were once confined to adults, such as high cholesterol or diabetes, for example. Obesity may also leave psychological scars on the child – he or she may develop low self-esteem or depression,” added Dr Motwani.

Dr Motwani suggests choosing the diet wisely for your little one. He says, “Generally, children tend to overindulge in junk food and packaged food. However, a child needs a meal which is rich in lean meat, lentils, fruit and vegetables and not one that is overly fatty. A healthy diet for a child is high in protein, low in carbs and contains minimal fats. Fresh fruit and raw vegetables provide a child with necessary vitamins and minerals and are low in calories.”

“Besides this, children needs plenty of exercise to keep them healthy. If they have a psychological problem or an eating disorder, it should be addressed. There can be genetic and hormonal reasons as well. Medicines which suppress appetite are not recommended for children, though bariatric surgery can be done for morbidly obese kids. Depending on the type of weight-loss surgery, a person can lose 40 to 70 percent of his/her extra weight within a span of 6 to 9 months, post-surgery and at least 90% of the people maintain their weight-loss for almost 10 years or more,” recommends Dr Motwani.

It is every parent’s wish to see that their children are physically, emotionally and psychologically sound and healthy. Healthy food habits from a young age exert a great influence on their overall health and development throughout their lives. As the child grows, their nutritional needs are crucial and of great importance to protect them against illnesses and to ensure proper development of bones, teeth, muscles, healthy tissues and greater immunity. Parents, siblings and others in the family must instill a good attitude towards healthy and nutritious foods that will enable them to make proper choices and decisions about the food they eat. Family members can also play a major role in inculcating good habits and create a vibrant environment for them to grow and enjoy, give them good education, teach good habits and a healthy lifestyle and allow them the right to enjoy and grow into a healthy and responsible citizens.

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