The prevalence of childhood obesity in the world today is 10 times higher than 30 years ago. About 20% of children and adolescents are overweight and this is a worrying trend. How not to cause obesity in a child told a BelTA correspondent doctors from the Republican Scientific and Practical Center “Mother and Child”: head of the laboratory for the health of children and adolescents, doctor of medical sciences, associate professor Marvyaya pediatrician, senior researcher of the laboratory, candidate of medical sciences Anna Simchenko.
The key to a child’s health is proper and nutritious nutrition. All the necessary substances are accompanied by food, which provide man with energy and building material for organs and tissues. This does not mean at all that “the more the better”. Systemic overeating is the leading cause of overweight and obesity. To assess its risk, it is necessary to know the characteristics of the child’s body metabolism, to have an idea of the factors that affect metabolic processes. In many cases, obesity in children does not cause concern to parents, because in the first couple this problem is not accompanied by obvious changes in the functional state of the body.
The main focus of the modern pediatric community is on changing the perception of overweight in children: obesity is not the norm, but a chronic disease. According to the WHO, there are 120 million overweight children in the world: one in three children is obese. Two-thirds of children have no physical activity during the day, 90% of the time teenagers do not engage in physical activity.
Being overweight in children leads to low self-esteem and depression due to the perception of a non-standard body. There are problems with the respiratory system – shortness of breath and intolerance to physical exercise. with cardiovascular – arterial hypertension, coagulation disorder, blood lipid profile. with digestive – indigestion – gastroesophageal reflux, cholelithiasis, constipation. with musculoskeletal – loads on the joints, ligament, flatfoot, postural curvature, bone fragility. with nervous – increased intracranial pressure, headaches. endocrine – type 2 diabetes.
Causes of childhood obesity include low physical activity, the predominance of fast food, fast carbohydrates, liquid calories (juices, soda), uncontrolled consumption of sweets, food and cooking foods, high-quality products (sausages, ). The absence of unsaturated foods in the diet, fats (fish, vegetable oils, nuts) and the dominance of trans fats (baking in margarine, cookies, factory sweets), food is not for hunger, but for fun.
It is important to develop healthy eating habits in your child. For example, thanks to a family breakfast, the child does not miss the first meal and maintains a balance in the distribution of macronutrients throughout the day. Regular dinner with the family helps to formulate a normal diet and avoid hunger before bedtime. A healthy child is able to understand how much food he needs to eat, he can stop in time without eating too much. Parents need to remember: food is not encouragement, reward or consolation, it has only one function – energy.
In addition, children do not distinguish between hunger and thirst, so the child should be offered water when he is thirsty. It is not desirable to quench your thirst with juice or soda. It should be understood that 1 liter of juice is equivalent in calories to 100 g of chocolate, 1 liter of lemonade may have a caloric content equal to the daily volume of food.
Doctors advise talking to children about food, the importance of their ingredients. It is recommended to involve the child in cooking. In addition, you should eat healthy food yourself, thus setting the example for the child. Do not focus on forbidden foods: the greater the interest in it, the greater the desire to eat it in excessive quantities.
Care must be taken that the child always has food with him in those cases where access to it is limited. For example, for school or a trip, you can prepare a lunch box with vegetables and fruits, sandwiches with bread, lean meat and cheese (if the ambient temperature allows), yogurt without sugar or kefir.
At certain ages, children have different risk factors for obesity. In the first year of life – this is an increase in the share of food, an increase in portions, in the second and third – the use of fried and smoked foods by children. Risk factors are the predominance of protein supplements, ie the introduction of whole milk and cottage cheese, as well as the use of highly processed and semi-finished products by children. Parents are advised to introduce complementary foods according to the child’s nutritional interest and with the support of the pediatrician. Do not increase the portions. It is important to control the child’s weight and height. You do not need to feed a child in the first year of life from the general table, do not force-feed him. It is worth remembering that in 9 out of 10 cases, the reasons for overeating are the family’s lifestyle and eating culture.
At the age of 6-7 years, there are risks due to the reduction of parental control in diet, the reduction of physical activity (children spend time outside school in gadgets), the first independent purchases (too sweet, processed carbohydrates), the violation of the diet ( refusal to eat at school, refusal to eat a full meal at home, uncontrolled snacks). Parents should control the diet of younger students, monitor what and how much the child eats. Special attention should be paid to sweets, snacks, juices, soda. It is better to give healthy snacks (lunch box) at school. Reduce time with gadgets, encourage physical activity. Children need to explain the meaning of fast food and its consequences for the body.
At the age of 13-15 years, there are potential risks due to the prevalence of fast food and multiple snacks in the diet and the reduction of physical activity. Teenagers eat food to regulate emotions, eat for company, often for them food as entertainment. At this age, the first independent weight loss efforts (dehydration, starvation, extreme diets) are possible, which can lead to serious violations. Parents should involve the child in cooking, talk about choosing healthy products. It is necessary to teach the child to understand the products, to read labels, to encourage any physical activity, to support by personal example. It is not necessary to use popular weight loss programs on a teenager: this can lead to irreversible damage, it is best to contact a nutritionist.
The problem of overweight in children is easier to prevent than to solve. If necessary, seek the help of a nutritionist. It is important to remember that the family plays a leading role in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity.