Why is childhood obesity on the rise?

A junk food culture, busy parents and a sedentary lifestyle has created a dangerous cocktail leading to childhood obesity.

Childhood obesityChildhood obesity has become a real problem with more and more children suffering from it in India. According to Parents India, more young children are feasting on fast and processed foods, food items that are high on empty calories (calories without any significant health benefit) and not having enough fruits, vegetables and other nutritional food items.

A sedentary lifestyle, combined with a different form of entertainment which mainly consists of video games, watching television and sitting on laptops instead of playing outside is playing a big part in this. Children are also likelier to travel by cars and walk less.

Tips to beat childhood obesity

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Cases of childhood obesity are on the rise these days and there are enough reasons which contribute to the growing numbers. The prime one is sedentary lifestyles. 'Children don't play outdoor games these days. There aren't many facilities for playing games like basketball, football, cricket, etc. Moreover, they have options aplenty at home like watching TV, playing video games, mobile and computer games. This reduces their physical activity to a large extent,' points out paediatrician Dr Zinal. (Also read: 5 weird and fun workouts)

She further adds that the easy availability of junk foods like pizzas, fries, burgers which are high in unsaturated fats and are difficult to digest also add to the problem. 'These days, both parents are working in most families and kids are at the mercy of maids who don't necessarily take care of their diet. Even in joint families, grandparents over pamper kids by offering sweets and chocolates which attributes to weight gain,' she says.

So how can parents handle this situation?

Here are a few pointers Dr Zinal recommends:

  • Discipline your child and enforce some restrictions regarding their diet.
  • Give them tasty and fresh home-made foods than outside, readymade food.
  • Keep a balance in time spent on studies and playing.
  • Encourage physical activities as a family like going for swimming, badminton, etc together.
  • Let them take part in sports too and not only be focussed on academics.

What's a healthy diet for children?

In order to ensure that your child is eating right, nutritionist Neha Chandna has devised a healthy meal plan for kids. 'A growing child needs all the nutrients in adequate amounts to promote growth and development both mentally and physically. Their diet must have foods from all food groups,' she says. Include the following in their meals:

  • Cereals: Oats, brown rice, whole wheat, jowar, bajri, ragi for energy, fibre, and B-complex vitamins
  • Pulses: Dals, sprouts, soya beans for proteins and muscle formation
  • Milk and milk products: Curds, cheese, paneer for calcium to promote bone and teeth development
  • Eggs, chicken, fish (if non-vegetarian) for protein. Fish also contains DHA for brain development of the child
  • Fruits of all varieties for vitamins, minerals and fibre
  • Green leafy veggies like spinach, methi, broccoli for iron and blood formation
  • Healthy oils like olive oil, rice bran oil, sunflower oil for essential fatty acids and overall good health

Read on to find out more tips

With inputs from Kriti Saraswat

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