What would you say is the biggest problem facing our children today? It is heartbreaking to know that childhood obesity is the most common nutritional disorder as well as a growing global epidemic in developed countries. It is also considered to be the underlying factor causing a variety of chronic illnesses in the Western World.
In the United States, childhood obesity is growing at a dangerous pace; one out of three kids is considered overweight or obese. Recognizing this problem and attempting to tackle it should be a priority as health impact of obesity is staggering, and can cause a wide spectrum of illnesses including but not limited to depression, low self esteem, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, high cholesterol, hypertension, sleep apnea etc…
Childhood obesity becomes important because its likelihood to persist in adulthood is very high and these children become victims of disorders linked to obesity as they grow older. Interactions between genetic, biological, psychological, sociocultural and environmental factors are typically blamed for childhood obesity yet early interventions or preventative educational methods are rarely discussed.
As a family wellness chiropractor specialized to work with children and pregnant women, I believe that prevention and education is an essential part of avoiding such disorder in your children and it should start early on. Prior to conception, parents should be aware of risks of high birth weight, maternal diabetes, and obesity in the family. Educate yourself about healthy habits and active lifestyles; learn how to implement and practice that knowledge in your family and especially with your children can help lower the chances of having an overweight and unhealthy family. Here are some recommendations:
‘Best for Baby, Best for Mom’:
There are enormous amounts of research done on the advantages of breastfeeding, one of which is its ability to decrease the chances of obesity in children. Increasing the length of breastfeeding time plays an important role in lowering the risk of childhood and adolescence obesity. One of many benefits of breastfeeding is that babies have an internal and innate ability to control their intake and thus will stop when no longer hungry.
‘Motion is Life’:
Many of our kids lack enough physical activity to warrant the amount of caloric intake they are consuming. Replacing children’s physical activity with video games, computer, and television contributes to this shift of inactivity in today’s world. Encourage kids to be physically active every day. If you eat at home together with your kids and watch TV a few times a week encourage your family and the children to reduce TV/computer time, and go for a walk or bike ride instead and have more home cooked meals available.
‘You Are What You Eat’:
Start good habits early. Offer your children a wide variety of healthy foods, to shape up their food preferences as well as educating them on what is healthy and natural. Let them be involved with healthy food choices while packing your lunch. Unfortunately the days of family meals together, as well as healthy portions of vegetables and fruits are gone, and replaced with fast food, high caloric junk, high sugar, and lots of eating out.
Your parenting style is linked directly to your child’s mind and body health. Main goal as parents or family practitioners should be to encourage healthy behaviors for the entire family, give your kids healthy options with good life style habits, natural food, and activities to promote potential development of obesity and its associated risks in your family.