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Curb the obesity in children

Tips to help kids from getting overweight by Dr. Anjali Mukerjee, a nutrionist and founder of Health total, a nutrition counselling center.

health and fitness Updated: Jun 09, 2011 19:13 IST
Hindustan Times

Obesity in children has become a worrying subject, with the rise in numbers of cases recently. The shift from a starving world to an obese one is happening with tremendous speed. Not a day passes without hearing about how our children are becoming overweight. This trend is found in the metros where kids pass most of their time indoors — in school, tuitions, watching TV or playing indoor games. To add to this their intake comprises a wide variety of junk food.

Fat womanStatistics show that roughly 20 per cent of school-going children in India are obese. In a study conducted by All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), among children of age group of 14 to 18, 17 per cent are found to be obese or overweight. In another study conducted to compare the childhood obesity among different cities, it is observed that obesity is more common among Delhi children as compared to kids of other states like Mumbai, Dehradun and Agra. It was found out that 32.6 per cent obese children studied in private schools compared to 9.2 per cent children in government ones. Mumbai trails behind Delhi with 30.4 per cent obese children in private schools and 7.9 per cent obese children in government school. It’s also noticed that there’s been an increase in the obesity from 11.6 to 17 per cent in private schools in past few years.

It has been reported that the current generation of obese children may have shorter life expectancies than their parents because of the rapid rise in childhood obesity. Obese children are more prone to heart disease, Type II diabetes, stroke, kidney failure and cancer.
The changes recommended are not only healthy for children but for the entire family. It is really important for the parents to cultivate healthy eating habits and increase the physical activity in children to help them lead a disease-free life. Parents have a crucial role
in creating an obese-free country by endorsing a healthy lifestyle and encouraging healthy food habits in children from a young age.

How to help kids from getting overweight:
1.Encourage activities like riding a cycle in the neighborhood and playing games like badminton, kho-kho, swimming and skipping.
2.Try to include activities like dancing, karate and yoga to bring about positive activity in their lives. Yoga takes care of both the body and mind.
3.Establish family hours in your daily routine and utilise that time by playing games together, which involve physical activity. It’ll bring you close to your children. Set goals for every one like going for walks together.
4.Along with an increase in activity levels, it is important to bring about small changes in diet too. These changes include :
5.Be a role model fro your little ones. Parents who don’t eat healthy cannot expect their children to eat healthy. Throw out all junk, farsan, chips, chocolate, soft drinks, white bread from the house and keep fresh fruits handy.
6.Check portion size. Give small servings to your child. Teach him to avoid overeating.
7.Use healthy cooking oil: Cook foods in healthy oils like olive and canola oil. Check the quantity of oil, while cooking. Be creative and make dishes, which require minimum oils and yet are appealing and tasty. Avoid deep-frying foods, instead adopt roasting and stir frying methods.
8.Make healthy choices: Keep healthy foods such as whole wheat bread sandwiches, chapatis and fruits handy, in place of colas and junk food. They will begin to enjoy healthy meals quickly. Use low-fat substitutes like low-fat cheese, salad dressing and skimmed milk.
9.Replace soft drinks: Aerated drinks even canned and sweetened fruit juices are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Replace them with coconut water, low fat milk, fresh fruitas well as vegetable juices.

Dr Anjali Mukerjee is a nutritionist and founder of Health Total, a nutrition counselling centre.

First Published: Jun 09, 2011 14:48 IST