Obesity is at an all time high in many western countries and America is no different. Consequently, more than 35% of adults are obese in the United States according to the CDC (Centers For Disease Control and Prevention).
However, obese children in America are at an all time high as well where the CDC notes that 17% of children and teenagers are obese. Therefore, in order to stop the increasing number of obese children in our society, it has to first start with the parents inside the home.
1. Parents Overfeed Their Children:
Because parents are mainly responsible for what their children eat, if you have overweight or obese children (obese means there is excess body fat that can lead to adverse medical effects), chances are one of the reasons behind it is because you are overfeeding them.
To prevent children from becoming overweight or obese, parents have to learn how to portion control their child’s meals. That said, serving sizes for children should not be the same as adults and therefore, parents need to be mindful of how much food they place on their children’s plate.
If your child does not feel like finishing all of his/her food, do not force them to “clean their plate.” Also, when serving your child meals, try to use smaller plates to prevent piling on too much food. To add, because kids are more energetic, especially preschoolers, it’s important to feed your child five to six smaller meals throughout the day rather than the standard “three meals a day” model.
Waiting too long to feed active children can cause them to overeat and thus, increase their risk of becoming obese children. Lastly, if you don’t know how much food to feed your child according to their age, research online for “serving size guidelines for children.”
2. Parents Allow Their Children To Be Inactive: I love electronics, gadgets, and social media as much as the next person, but when it comes to children, parents need to be more assertive about making their kids put these items down and go outside to play.
Bottom line, there should be no reason why a child should be sitting at home on a beautiful day playing video games or on the computer when he/she should be outside playing and interacting with friends. Consequently, making sure your child is physically active will have to be a priority in order to stop the risk of having obese children.
Are there sports teams at your child’s school or at your local community center? Sign them up! Do you need to be more physically active and lose weight too? Why not go bike riding, hiking, or swimming with your child? For raining days or just for a variety, how about buying a few fitness DVD’s that are specifically designed for kids?
In general, if you can keep kids physically active as a preventive measure from becoming obese, not only will children learn the importance of fitness, but children will learn good habits of regular exercise that will carry over into their adulthood. As a result, healthy and fit kids will become healthy and fit adults!
3. Parents Allow “Bad Foods” In The House:
It’s important that parents teach their children good eating habits like choosing healthy foods to eat while avoiding bad foods high in sugar, calories, and fat that leads to unwanted weight gain. Thus, eating too much baby carrots is not the cause behind obese children, but eating too much junk food, fast food, and drinking too many sweetened beverages are.
Besides, when you factor in the reality that parents are the ones who buy the food for the home, as well cook the food, it’s no wonder parents become easy targets to blame for obese children. However rightly so because once more, parents are the ones who decide what goes on their child’s plate.
If at all possible avoid buying “bad foods,” including processed food, and make it a point to not keep these types of food inside the house. If bad foods like chips, soda, and candy can’t be easily accessible to your children, they can’t eat it, right? Also, be sure to choose healthy foods for your family and mandate that your children drink more water and/or milk.
Moreover, take an opportunity to teach your children about developing healthy eating habits like learning how to read the nutrition label on the back of foods (especially if they are in their teens), explaining the importance of a healthy diet consisting of fresh fruits and vegetables, and learning how to properly snack in between meals.
4. Parents Don’t Act As A Role Model: The next time you see obese children, take a look at their parents. Are they obese too? Why should obese children care about their health or how they look if their parents don’t care? That’s like saying you don’t want your child to smoke, yet as a parent you smoke.
Not only that, but when children witness their parents overeating, being inactive, and eating unhealthy food, they subconsciously learn and believe that these types of bad habits are OK. It’s not! Therefore, if you want your children to learn by example, then it’s time to lead by example.
If you are overweight or obese and feel self-conscious about how you look, it’s very likely your overweight or obese child feels self-conscious about how they look as well. While I am not a psychologist, I do feel this would be a nice opportunity to discuss with your child about body image, health, and the importance of fitness where together, you and your child can come up with a plan to lose weight and get healthier as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Consequently, hire a nutritionist, clear your kitchen of junk food and sugary beverages, and schedule regular fitness activities with your child to help make the journey of losing weight easier. If everyone in the family is overweight or obese, make getting fit and healthier a family affair!
5. Parents Avoid Medical Warning Signs: It’s bad enough that some adults don’t follow the advice of their doctor when it comes to their health, but when parents ignore the advice of a doctor regarding their child’s health, particularly their child’s weight, that’s being neglectful. Once again, parents are the ones responsible for what their children eat. That said, if parents can’t “underfeed” their children where they can possibly face criminal charges for neglect, how is it that parents can get away with “overfeeding” their children?
While I am not saying that I’m in favor of removing children from the home because they are overweight or obese, I can certainly understand the argument because whether you underfeed or overfeed a child, both can cause serious medical problems. Accordingly, being overweight or obese is detrimental to a child’s health where overweight or obese children run the risk of developing:
Do you really want that for your child? Can you at least understand why parents could be the blame for obese children even though it is not intentional?
Parents of obese children who don’t get their child’s weight under control when they are young run the risk of their child dying as an adult from one of the leading causes of death in America: heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
Therefore, to prevent your child from fighting a lifelong battle with their weight and suffering from serious health problems, don’t ignore the medical warning signs from your child’s doctor.
If a doctor tells you that your child is overweight or obese and NEEDS to lose weight, make it your number one priority to follow the doctor’s orders.