October 12th is observed as World Obesity Day every year.
According to the World Health Organization, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has increased substantially over the past three decades. An estimated 170 million children (aged less than 18 years) across the world are considered overweight. According to a 2016 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in children increased to 17.4 percent in 2006-2010 which finally reached to 19.3 percent in studies reported after 2010. The increased prevalence of overweight and obesity can further add to serious health consequences such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even cancer. This is the reason why obesity is regarded as one of the most serious health challenges of the 21st century.
It goes without saying that there is no single or simple solution that can help fight aid in the prevention of obesity epidemic. As it is a complex problem, there has to be a multifaceted approach. However, the first step to deal with obesity and prevent obesity in kids starts at home. Parents need to be more cautious about what they eat and how they eat to ensure proper weight control in their kids. Here are few simple diet tips for prevention of obesity in kids to help you get started!
Diet Tips For Prevention Of Obesity In Children
Although genetics do contribute to a child’s weight status, lifestyle factors such as poor eating habits and lack of physical activity are the key reasons for an increased prevalence of overweight and obesity in recent times. Here are a few tips that can help prevent weight gain and thus, obesity during childhood.
#1. Change your eating habits
Diet plays a key role in increasing the risk of obesity in both kids and adults. So to ensure your kids eat healthy, gradually change your family’s eating habits, which indirectly helps in the prevention of obesity. This includes voting for home cooked food over restaurant food. Home Cooked food is not only rich in nutrients, healthy and freshly prepared but also helps you to ensure that your kid is full and stays away from bingeing outside food. Even when eating out, you can pick the ones that contain more vegetables and less of oily/cheesy food. Another simple way is to pack healthy food in their tiffin boxes to ensure they eat a healthy meal both at home and school.
#2. Be a role model for your kids
You can’t expect your kids to enjoy a bowl of salad or eat home cooked food when you are relishing a restaurant food. It is the parent’s responsibility to be a role model for their children. Parents who eat healthy foods and are physically activity set a great example for their kids. This not only increases the likelihood of their children to do the same. All you have to do is set an example for your kids and your kids will follow the route when it comes to eating healthy and staying healthy.
#3. Stock your home with healthy foods
One of the most effective ways to inculcate the habit of healthy eating in kids is to create a healthy environment at home. This means stock your home with loads of fruits, vegetables, and homemade snacks to prevent your child from indulging in processed, junk food. If you have a habit of coming back home with a box of chocolates or a pack of chips for your child, stop it because it will only cause your kid to favor unhealthy food. The rule also applies for sugary beverages and carbonated drinks which are a favorite among kids and find an easy place in refrigerators. So the next time you go for grocery shopping avoid buying packaged foods, chocolates, chips, and soft drinks as it can act as a simple yet effective tool for prevention of obesity.
#4. Include fruits and vegetables in every meal
Fruits and vegetables are an essential part of our diet and hence, it is important to serve at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily for prevention of obesity in kids, reports several studies. The 2002 Joint WHO/FAO Expert Consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases recommends that people should consume at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per person per day (which is equivalent to five servings). This is because eating larger amounts of fruits and vegetables increases the feeling of satiety and decreased energy density which in turn helps kids from unhealthy bingeing. It also decreases the total energy intake and increases diet quality promoting healthy weight. You can include fruits and vegetables either in raw form as salads, or smoothie, or add it to rice or curries.
#5. Always read the food label
Most of us are smitten by the eye-catchy Ads on TV when it comes to choosing a food product. However, it is not always true as the pack might be misleading. So to get the right idea about how healthy a food packet is, it is best to read the nutritional information at the back of a packet. Nutritional labeling can help you to make healthier food choices and know the right caloric intake. This habit has shown to encourage more healthy diets in people who read the labels. So to ensure your kid eats healthy, nutrient-rich food, do not forget to check the label without fail every time you but a food packet.
Do you follow any tricks to ensure your kid eats healthy and stays healthy? If yes, then do share your tips and tricks with us in the comments section and help like-minded parents on how to tweak their kids eating habits to prevent overweight and obesity.
(The article is reviewed by Dr. Lalit Kanodia, General Physician)
1. Ranjani H, Mehreen TS, Pradeepa R, et al. Epidemiology of childhood overweight & obesity in India: A systematic review. Indian J Med Res. 2016 Feb;143(2):160-74.
2. Population-based approaches to Childhood Obesity Prevention. World Health Organization.
3. How to Prevent Obesity. Obesity Prevention. Stanford Health Care.