Ask a child to go out and play and I am sure he/she comes up with a hundred different reasons (right from leg pain and tiredness to sleepiness) to avoid outdoor activity. This statement even makes our kids studious enough that they quote homework as a reason to abstain from going out. This indoor culture has paved way for a generation of children who seem to outgrow their normal body statistics and become obese/overweight in a short span of time. Childhood obesity rates are rising up and we as parents are concerned about our kids’ health. But what more do we do beyond showing concern? Kids treat their parents as their numero uno role model and copy whatever they do. Compelling kids to go out and play while you sit down with a smartphone, insisting them to exercise while you sleep through the morning or asking them to avoid junk food while you post a pic of yourself eating pizza on Insta are dead ends. Gearing up for a game of badminton, ready to play hopscotch with your little one or going for a walk as a family helps them understand the importance of physical activity in our lives. Dear parents, failing to follow such practices has now landed us with skyrocketing rates of childhood obesity issues and its concerning side effects. Realize the importance of your participation in physical activities to motivate your child with the examples given at www.firsteatright.com.
Non-alcoholic fatty Liver Disease Due to Obesity
Obesity has its name spread far and wide for affecting people with different ailments and conditions such as increased risk of heart diseases, BP levels, cholesterol and even cancer. Despite its reputation for spoiling people’s health not many are aware of the side effects of obesity in young children: non-fatty liver disease.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the name given for a group of conditions caused due to build up of fat in the liver. This condition is commonly witnessed in obese/overweight people and has the potential to cause other problems such as diabetes, BP and kidney disease. For someone with diabetes acquiring NAFLD increases the chances of heart disease. While this condition is common in adults a study recently has discovered that it now strikes kids even as young as 7-year-olds if they are obese/overweight. The scariest part is that the disease shows no symptoms and as it progresses there are many chances that the individual might be affected by liver cirrhosis/liver cancer too.
A group of researchers studied 635 children measuring their blood levels for an enzyme called ALT. ALT is a marker for liver health where elevated ALT levels are sure indicators of liver damage-a condition that can occur in NAFLD. It was seen that by the age of 8 almost 23% of the participants suffered from elevated ALT levels. Those kids with a big waist circumference as early as the age of three and those children who gained maximum weight between the ages of 3 and 8 were likelier to suffer from elevated ALT levels. The figures of ALT levels between obese and normal kids showed tremendous difference-35% obese kids had increased ALT levels while only 20% normal kids had elevated ALT ranges. Physicians measure ALT levels in children belonging to high-risk category starting from around 10 years but this study highlights the importance of acting earlier and taking necessary actions in terms of preventing excess weight gain and therefore, the risk of non-fatty liver disease.
Changing the lifestyle for better and highlighting the importance of physical activity motivate kids to follow a healthier lifestyle. Encourage kids to eat plenty of fruits, veggies and low-fat dairy and discourage the consumption of processed foods to regulate their wellness. Make their daily menu interesting with exciting swaps-whole grain pastas, carrot cakes and much more. Break the monotony by involving kids in planning the day’s menu, asking them to do small chores and appreciating their little deeds. This way, kids too enjoy their experience and never fall back onto their previous unhealthy lifestyle.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.