Why is obesity such a big deal? To begin with, the numbers are alarming. There are three times more overweight children today than there were 25 years ago. Cases of juvenile onset diabetes have skyrocketed. Risks of other weight-related diseases have also increased. It has become a modern-day epidemic that parents worry – as they should – about.
Are Your Children at Risk of Obesity?
Chubby toddlers are the most natural thing in the world. Should you worry that they’re on the path to obesity?
Research shows that parents don’t always realize that their kids weigh too much. At certain childhood stages, some fat is normal and even healthy, so it’s understandable for parents to go for either one wrong extreme (failure to recognize excessive weight) or the other wrong extreme (unnecessary worry over acceptable weight gain).
Nevertheless, the important thing to watch out for more than the children’s weight would be their dietary habits. Whether they’re currently chubby or not, if their lifestyle is particularly indulgent, then they’re courting the possibility of obesity.
Obesity Risk Checklist
On a positive note, risks of obesity can be controlled. There are warning signs you can spot as early as the toddler years. What are the questions you should ask to determine if your child is in bigger danger of succumbing to obesity?
1. What’s their BMI?
The Body-Mass Index is a person’s weight-for-height calculation. Pediatricians track your children’s growth based on percentile charts indicating normal BMI patterns for age and gender.
If your kids are at or above the 95th percentile, that’s definitely a red alarm. If they’re at or above the 85th percentile, you can consider that a warning. Take heed of these signals and act accordingly.
2. Are you or your partner overweight?
Weight problems can be brought on by a combination of both genetics and lifestyle. Even if your children start out thin, having an overweight parent increases their risk of the same issue in the future.
If genetics does come into play in this situation, then the more you should make the effort to be at a healthier weight and help your children learn to choose healthier options.
3. Are they inactive for most of the day?
Did you sprout little couch potatoes? Do your children spend an inordinate amount of time lounging around watching TV or fiddling with some mobile screen?
This is not just about your kids being sedentary, holding on to energy and calories that should be burned off; it’s also about the usual accompanying habits. Children who park themselves like zombies in front of a screen are also more likely to binge on junk food.
And why not? A lot of the typical TV commercials for children-oriented shows are for high sugar treats. An out-of-control TV habit technically gives your children a double whammy, so get them off the couch.
4. Are they spending time outdoors?
There’s a concept that arose in the last century as kids became more and more content to stay indoors, trapped with nifty technologies that can entertain them for hours on end. Nature deficit disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods,” refers to a condition brought about by the minimal time children spend outdoors.
Although it’s not a medically acknowledged condition, it’s still very real as common observation indicates. The lack of outside activity has supported not only the onset of weight problems, but various behavioral challenges as well.
The solution here is obvious. Take them out to enjoy time in the natural world.
5. What are their eating and drinking habits?
Obesity really all ultimately boils down to calorie consumption. Everything else just aids and abets the pursuit of unhealthy dietary habits. What are the usual indicators of these?
- Do they drink soda? How much?
- Do they frequently snack on prepackaged salty or sugary treats that are usually nothing but empty calories?
- Do you often eat out or order in? Would your choice usually be fast food?
You don’t have to be a professional nutrition adviser to come up with the solution
Calling the Shots
You, as the adult, get to exercise control over the situation. Little children eat and do what you make available to them. It’s up to you to make their options healthy.
Obesity may be a looming possibility, but there are certain measures you can take to keep it at bay.