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Childhood obesity is one of the most serious global public health challenges of the 21st century, affecting every country in the world.

Obesity can harm nearly every system in a child’s body-heart and lungs, muscles and bones, kidneys and digestive tract, as well as the hormones that control blood sugar and puberty-and can also take a heavy social and emotional toll.  What’s worse, youth who are overweight or obese have substantially higher odds of remaining overweight or obese into adulthood,  increasing their risk of disease and disability later in life.

Globally, an estimated 43 million preschool children (under age 5) were overweight or obese in 2010, a 60 percent increase since 1990.  The problem affects countries rich and poor, and by sheer numbers, places the greatest burden on the poorest: Of the world’s 43 million overweight and obese preschoolers, 35 million live in developing countries. By 2020, if the current epidemic continues unabated, 9 percent of all preschoolers will be overweight or obese-nearly 60 million children. 

Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates have tripled in the U.S.,

„Genetics loads the gun, but lifestyle pulls the trigger”  is a comment worth thinking about. No matter how old we are, our lifestyles will affect us. We need to help our children to develop healthy habits and a love for exercise and sports.

Obesity among children and young adults had increased between 26-41 percent among the age groups since 1999. Many health providers and organisations are labelling it as an epidemic. 

 What may be some factors contributing to this environment is an increase in:

  • families dining out more often
  • the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, especially in soft drinks and juices
  • decrease in physical activity – more driving and less physical ativities like walking and sports
  • more time spent in front of digital screens and less time spent playing outside
  • fast-food and full-service restaurants
  •    Genetics. Obesity has a strong genetic component. …
  •   Engineered Junk Foods. Heavily processed foods are often little more than refined ingredients mixed with  additives. …
  •    Food Addiction. …
  •    Aggressive Marketing to children of sweets, snack foods, carbonated drinks. fast food, etc.

With these factors in mind, we can change a few key habits of our family and our children. You don’t necessarily to focus on weight loss (unless it was the doctor’s recommendation) because children’s bodies are developing rapidly.  Restricting their calorie intake can result in them not getting enough vitamins, minerals, and energy they need for proper growth. Instead, here are a few things you can focus on to help them develop a healthy relationship with food and exercise.

Provide nutritious foods

Healthy, balanced meals are key for proper nutrition. Teach them the importance of eating nutrient-rich food, like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, lean meats, and fish. Involve them in the process of preparing dinner as many times as you can. Let them „play around in the kitchen.” This will help them develop smart eating habits. They are more likely to eat their dinner if they helped you prepare it.

Get them up and moving

Don’t let them spend entire days glued to the TV or monitor. They need to get their energy out, involve themselves in sports, or go on family hikes. In the afternoons, go outside and play with them. Children try to mimic our habits. If they see us moving around and doing different kinds of sports, they will want to be involved.

Turn off the TV while eating

Try not to let them snack in front of the TV every time they watch it. It can lead to overeating. Research has shown that the more television children watch, the more likely they are to gain extra kilos. 

Try to make dinners a family meal around the dinner table. 

Teach healthy habits

When children learn about planning meals, shopping for healthy foods, and preparing nutritious dishes, they’ll be developing healthy habits that may last them a lifetime. 

I know that it can be tough for busy parents to keep all of this in mind. Even if you start to implement cooking with them once every two weeks or get them off the couch two times a week, it will start to change their habits. Maybe next time they will decide to go and play outside instead of watching a movie, or they will go to the kitchen to help you prepare dinner. 

Every little change counts and helps them to make healthier choices!  

Your child’s future may depend on it!