Bigger really is not better
Obesity in young children and youth has continued to rise since the pandemic. Currently 1 in 5 children are overweight or obese! These children are ticking time-bombs for diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep problems and bone fractures. Not to mention the psychological implications, with many obese children suffering from poor self esteem and depression.
Fat cells in children under the age of 6 years can not only expand, but also multiply. As fat cells never die, overweight children carry into adulthood the increased likelihood of obesity.
Childhood obesity is commonly due to unhealthy eating habits coupled with low activity levels. The playground has been replaced with TV and computer screens for entertainment. Easy access to sugar and fat-packed snack foods such as energy drinks, biscuits and chocolates heightens the battle.
Overeating is becoming easy with larger “value for money” portions. Over the past 20 years pizza slices have more than doubled in size, muffins have tripled in size, and standard fizzy drinks have tripled in volume! This results in a frightening assault on our health!
Healthy change begins with increasing physical activity and encouraging healthy eating habits. Remember that children imitate adults, so start with yourself!
· Physical activities should be fun, not “weight loss chores”! Encourage outdoor games, limiting computer and TV time. Children should be active for 60 minutes daily. This can be as 10-15 minute activity periods throughout the day.
· Instead of chocolates, biscuits and sweets rather offer a variety of healthy snacks like fruits, yoghurts, nuts and vegetables. Have a large fruit bowl accessible to your children, and encourage vegetable fingers dipped in hummus / cottage cheese as crunchy savoury snacks.
Seize the day to reassess your family’s eating and behaviour patterns, and embark on a healthier lifestyle together, today!