Its time to congratulate ourselves as we have nurtured a generation of kids who are moving steadily towards childhood obesity with our ‘clean plate club’ efforts, food rewards, access to smartphones and electronic gadgets in order to finish our pending chores and restricted exposure to outdoor games as both parents are working and children are enrolled in a daycare center/left at the mercy of a caretaker at home. Growing up in such an environment, the child automatically chooses junk food as a bribe for staying at home with a nanny, a treat to the kid’s favorite movie with a big tub of cheesy popcorn and become used to getting things done from sitting at their place as most of them have a dedicated maid at home to take care of the child’s needs. While this may be the scenario in upper middle class and high-class societies, children in other sectors too don’t lag far off in child obesity rates. That’s primarily because many of the baked goods, processed foods and fried items are available at a decreased cost comparatively and hence, this case is highly prevalent in all of the low-economic countries.
To add to it all, most schools don’t have a dedicated time for physical activity nor do they encourage children to take part in sports activities. Even if some schools do have a play period, it is mostly utilized by other subject teachers for completing their portions before examinations. Sadly, overall body health is good physical as well as mental health of the child. Free play and activity-based play trigger a child’s mental well-being which in turn helps the kid perform well in academics too. If you are still doubtful about the underlying connection between exercise and academic performance, you can know the complete details on this with authentic evidence listed at www.firsteatright.com.
Obesity: A Name of Familiarity
Worldwide, nearly 1 in every 6 children are obese. Number of overweight/obese children aged between 0 and 5 years increased from 32 million in 1996 to 41 million in 2016.
Kids spend less than 40% of time engaged in outdoor activities. Hopscotch, hide and seek or running have become games of the past. Had they played outdoors and been active, the world would have not reached a point where we need to force children to perform similar exercises as adults. A new research too proposes the fact that encouraging young people to do strength-based exercises such as squats, lunges and push ups can play a great role in tackling child obesity.
Researchers analyzed numerous studies that probed on the effects of resistance training on body weight for children aged nine to 18 years. They studied results from 18 studies across eight countries and found that resistance training lowered body fat but did not alter lean muscle mass, body mass index and waist circumference. The research team found that participating in exercises that caused the muscles to contract, strengthen them and improve bone strength were the same ones that reduced children’s body fat percentage.
The analyses also paved way for another important discovery that strength-based exercises increase muscle mass which in turn boost children’s metabolism and energy levels. While there was no direct research done and it was an analysis of other results, the results offer meaningful evidences to research further on the advantages of using resistance training to treat and prevent childhood obesity in children.
Encouraging Fitness from Birth
“As you sow, so shall you reap” is best-suited for kids. When parents encourage children to be physically fit and eat healthy since birth how can they grow up as a couch potato? But, the one main condition here is to include physical activity and games as a daily schedule for the entire family. Children copy their parents and when mom and dad reinforce positive ideologies and participate whole-heartedly in doing exercise together or playing games they build stronger bonds with their kids and improve physical fitness.
Parents should always remember to focus on the child’s health but not his/her weight. Parents must help their kids make the right food choices and stay active. Advertisements are a child’s biggest attraction and parents must ensure that the kids are not carried away by the advertising gimmicks using phrases that are understandable to the kid and subtly prevent him/her from falling a prey to it. Every kid needs at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Encourage children to play with their friends, during weekends it can be family time where the whole family plays football together or the child can also be enrolled in swimming/skating classes if he/she loves it. Also, kids need ample sleep otherwise this can be a great trigger for obesity or overweight.
Obesity is a growing concern worldwide that doesn’t resolve on its own without adequate attention and support. Strength-based exercises can help kids and parents make healthy choices and stay physically fit in life.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.