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Childhood obesity: is your child at risk?

The urban culture is up on a rise. Life in the fast lane has many pleasures. Comforts are plenty. And so are health challenges. Obesity is one such contribution of modern living. The fear of pandemia exists. And it is time we gainsaid the pleasures of modern living. The epidemic of obesity is surging ahead rapidly. And children do not seem to escape this trap too.

Obesity has little to do with genetic factors but much to do with the changing lifestyle of the adults and consequently the children. Attempts to single out any cause have failed and everything right from processed foods to soft drinks, to busy lifestyles and urban culture has already been blamed for the prevalence of childhood obesity.

Read carefully to understand if there are any similarities between your lifestyle and that mentioned below, if yes, it’s time to wave a red flag;

The Health Inconvenience of the Convenience Foods and Snacks:1

A shift from consumption of fresh foods to processed and packaged foods and snacks is very evident. The advantage they offer is fit for our fast paced lives, they are ready made. But unfortunately, these foods items are often high in fat and sugar and thus are highly energy dense. Children are exposed to those unhealthy food choices and are vulnerable to their appeal. Traditional home made diets that are high on nutrients, essential vitamins and minerals are struggling to compete with these extensively marketed and attractively packaged fast foods.

The Added Sugars2

The fast foods offered to children are often accompanied with sweetened drinks.

Sugar-sweetened soft drinks typically contain 140-150 calories (and practically no nutrients) per 12-oz (about 250 ml) serving; which is, in fact, a lot of unnecessary empty calories. Mounting evidence suggests that the excessive consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages not only contributes to obesity but also promotes energy imbalance. Reducing intake of empty calories by limiting sugar sweetened beverage consumption may be a key strategy for promoting healthy eating and preventing excess weight gain in children.

Physical Inactivity1

Unhealthy food choices combined with lack of adequate physical activity is another major concern and is adding to the causes of obesity in children. The effects of poor eating habits are further compounded by lack of physical activity.

Family outings and weekends have been confined to the malls play areas only. And the only games the child plays is racing a car on a screen competing with the video games machine. The trajectory towards healthier, happier childhood seems to be heading the wrong way.

It is about time that we, as parents need to identify and work on changing this scenario and guide our gen-next towards a healthier life.


References

1.St-Onge MP, Keller KL, Heymsfield SB.Changes in childhood food consumption patterns: a cause for concern in light of increasing body weight. Am J Clin Nutr 2003; 78:1068-73.

2.Wang YC, Bleich SN, Gortmaker SL. Increasing caloric contribution from sugar-sweetened beverages and 100% fruit juices among US children and adolescents, 1988-2004. Pediatrics. 2008; 121(6):e1604-14.