With a staggering 34.8 percent of girls between the age of 6 to 19 and 33 percent of boys of the same age classified as overweight or obese in UAE in 2011, parents should start this year off on the right note when it comes to their children’s eating habits and lifestyles. General Pediatrician and Consultant Dr. Lee Hudson explains how.
HOW TO HELP CHILDREN WHO ARE OVERWEIGHT OR OBESE
- If a child is already overweight than the main thing is to try and prevent them gaining any more weight and then to try and reduce their weight.
- Things like keeping children physically active, limiting their time watching TV (especially when eating as they tend to not sense how much they are eating), and being careful about portion sizes are all important ways of preventing further increase in weight.
- When possible make sure children do not skip meals as this will make them eat more at any given meal.
- Children are also really interested in, and tend to copy, what we as parents and adults do – so parents and relatives can try and demonstrate healthy eating to set a good example.
- Remember, there is no single method that works to reduce the weight of an obese child. It needs efforts in different zones of a child and young person’s life.
- One way of thinking about risk in children and young people is to find evidence of other risk factors that go along with obesity – like high blood pressure.
- Finding high blood pressure can help children understand how big a problem being overweight is to their health and to help motivate changes for the future.
- For some young people who have a significant level of obesity, bariatric surgery might also be helpful.
TIPS FOR PARENTS WORRIED ABOUT THEIR CHILDREN’S WEIGHT
- Setting good examples for them around food is important, but also understanding why many children tend to become overweight is essential.
- Problems with weight tend to build up slowly over time and many families do not notice until problems are established. It always better to share a healthy lifestyle with your children even if weight is not a problem to ensure that children are given the best chance at a healthy and long life.
- Telling children off and punishing them for being overweight is unlikely to help, and the best approach is for the whole family to take part in healthy lifestyle changes, this includes eating better and doing more exercise.
- If you are worried about your child’s weight, then seeking advice and support from a health professional such as a doctor or a dietician can be helpful.
Credit: Dr. Lee Hudson
The Great Ormond Street Hospital, London