Obesity in Childhood

4 April 2010, 01:01 | Posted under by Tatiana

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The prevalence of obesity for children and adolescents ages 2-19 years old living in the United States is nearly 17%. This statistic is dramatically above the estimated 5% from the early 1970’s. Our society has become less focused on manual activities as well as increasing economic demands on our families which are limiting time and choice of family meals and activities.
The increased risk of developing significant co morbidities such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and sleep apnea can be avoided. In addition to coping with these medical conditions, children are often targets of social aggression, discrimination and bullying due to their obesity.
How much self esteem do you want your child to have? How important is this to you? As a parent your home environment can be the environment to nurture self esteem. I once heard an interview and the woman related an incident in her own family. She said she realized whenever her children came into the room she did not have a smile on her face and she realized too late her children interpreted this as criticism. As parents we can structure home life to include eating meals together, possibly preparing them as a family. Creating discussion and sharing days events at the dinner table. I recommend shutting all outside media during mealtimes to create a safe environment for talking and sharing.
Parents are role models. What are your priorities? How important is it to be kind and generous? How often do you show your child how to be human? How vain are you? How honest? Education begins at home at an early age. Education is learned by example. Are you a smoker? The commercials on television are very graphic and are frightening to children if their parents are smokers. How is your weight? Do you eat healthy? Do you have medical conditions that can be improved with nutrition and activity? Children are not the decision makers of what foods are in the house. Too often I can relate poor parental health and lack of healthy available foods back to problems, my adolescent patients are facing.
Playgrounds are one of the earliest experiences for children. Encouraging physical activities that the entire family participates in is a wonderful means of helping your child to socialize and stay active. Is walking in your life? School teams are a built in way for your son and daughter to learn good sportsmanship, how to organize their time while being active.
Helping your child to be competent is another tool that will enable them to succeed in life. When you compliment your child, it increases their self esteem. When they are independent or create a picture or when they are polite acknowledging these positive behaviors emphasize that you are present and accept them. Chores are a wonderful way to instill competence. There are many charts that children can use to begin learning to organize their time. Small rewards are motivating. Children know their parents really “care” and “listen” so they carry themselves differently in school and activities outside of their homes. They are more inclined to try new activities without fear of failure. Isn’t that what we want for them?
Bullying has become out of control. This past week the news has reported a suicide of an adolescent precipitated by bullying. Obese children are targets. My immediate reaction is weren’t the parents aware? Why didn’t the child tell their parents? I see adolescents who have weight issues and I am the person to tell their parents their child I self conscious and is avoiding activities because they have been bullied.
I am writing this article to bring more attention to the problems and issues that obese children face. Please open up channels of communication with your children. Television and video games have their place but if those activities are using up all free time for communication or family activity time then as a parent you need to make changes.
My suggestions as a nutritionist are:
• One night every week a family member gets to prepare dinner. Healthy choices are the only qualification.
• Parents need to know what food and drinks your child is getting in school, at team practices, and in their friends homes.
• Investigate the food in your home. Is it providing vitamins and minerals without excessive saturated fats, sugar, sodium and chemicals?
• Set aside time once a week for a family physical activity. This can change with the seasons. For example walking during the fall, ice skating during the winter, swimming during the summer and bicycling during the spring.
• Set aside at least two meals per week with the entire family present. Everybody needs to participate in sharing their week. What was good and what wasn’t. Our children are our future.
Source: http://www.amazines.com/article_detail.cfm/4541224?articleid=4541224