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Fat children likelier to suffer from type 2 diabetes and heart disease in adulthood

Childhood obesityA new study has found that childhood obesity has long lasting consequences, even when kids lose weight. A University of Colorado Cancer Center article shows that even in cases in which obese children later lose weight, the health effects of childhood obesity may be long-lasting and profound. 'There were two things going on here. First, the earlier you are exposed to obesity, the earlier we may see the onset of complications including type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome and cancer,' Kristen Nadeau, MD, investigator at the CU Cancer Center, associate professor of Pediatric Endocrinology at the CU School of Medicine, and the paper's senior author, said. (Read: New insights in type 2 diabetes boost for novel therapies)

'That makes sense: these complications don't happen overnight, and the earlier you start the ball rolling, the earlier and more likely you are to see early morbidity and mortality from them. But then it looks like independent of this increased-exposure effect, kids' maturing bodies may be especially vulnerable to the detrimental health effects of obesity. 'Early exposure can make you much more predisposed to complications than might exposure once the body is done maturing. It may be that childhood obesity changes the way the whole metabolism is working and changes it during a critical developmental time frame,' she said. (Read: Beat type 2 diabetes with yoghurt and low-fat dairy products)

Previous studies have shown the intuitive causal chain of childhood obesity leading to adult obesity, which in turn leads to complications, but recent evidence shows that childhood obesity may also create these effects independent of adult obesity. Childhood obesity may itself be enough to cause outcomes including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and its associated cardiovascular, retinal and renal complications, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, obstructive sleep apnea, polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility, asthma, orthopedic complications, psychiatric disease, and increased rates of cancer, among others. The study is recently published in the journal Gerontology. (Read: Tips to live well with Type 2 Diabetes)

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Tips to beat childhood obesity

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 and PTI

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