9 Ways To Prevent Childhood Obesity
A new study says that urban design that a locality has can be a determining factor in childhood obesity.
Childhood obesity can be prevented by encouraging healthy eating habits in children
- Healthy eating habits can prevent childhood obesity
- Limit screen time to 2 hours to prevent childhood obesity
- Encourage children to play outside to prevent them from getting obese
Children who in live in localities where they can walk and play around will have smaller waists and a lower body mass index. The kind of urban design that a locality has will be a determining factor as to how obese a child is - states findings by a Montreal research team. The study was published in Preventive Medicine, which has Adrian Ghenadenik as the lead author and Professor Barnett as the senior contributing author. As per the study, having an infrastructure that encourages walking can help in reducing childhood obesity.
Having amenities for pedestrians such as crossing lights, comparatively wider sidewalks and signs that can help pedestrians to cross the road safely are some measures which can have positive effects on high-density neighbourhoods. They encourage children to play outside, ride bicycles and engage in similar activities which can engage them in physical activity and prevent childhood obesity.
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Paediatrician Dr Gorika Bansal says that childhood obesity can be prevented by encouraging healthy eating habits in children. "You need to bring a few modifications in children's lifestyle to prevent childhood obesity. Parents should avoid giving fast food and junk food to children. Including too much salt or sugar in a child's diet is not very healthy. Instead, you should prepare healthy snacks at home so that they are not attracted to junk food," she says.
Dr Gorika goes on to give the following tips to prevent childhood obesity:
1. Giving alternative snacks which are interesting and colourful is a better option to prevent childhood obesity. For snacking, you can give baked potatoes instead of French fries. You can make whole wheat bread pizza with cottage cheese and other veggies available at home.
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2. Avoid giving carbonated drinks, energy drinks or sports drinks, and sugary drinks to children. Fruit juices in tetra packs aren't healthy at all. They are full of preservatives and high sugary content. You can give them lemon water with slight sugar and salt. It maintains an electrolyte balance during summer. Coconut water is another wonderful drink during. It is not full of calories and provides good nutrition to children. Buttermilk is also a light and healthy drink to be given to children.
3. Children should be given lots of liquids and should be given a high fibre diet to prevent childhood obesity.
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4. Limiting the screen time of children is very important to prevent childhood obesity. Children are widely addicted to TV, mobile phones and laptops these days. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, children below the age of 2 years should not have a screen time at all. Children above 2 years of age are allowed nothing more than 2 hours of screen time in 24 hours.
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5. Sleep deprivation is another cause of childhood obesity. Having a good night's sleep is very important for children. Parents should try and be a role model and sleep on time in order to encourage the same in their children.
6. At least 1 hour's play time is important for children so as to keep obesity at bay. Encourage children to play cricket, go for cycling, try their hands at dancing, etc.
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7. When children see other children of their age group playing outside, they too will be encouraged to play. But if you stay in a locality where there are more elderly people around, then parents should take the initiative of taking their children outdoors and play with them. You can take your child out for a walk or a jog with you. You should also encourage your children to play during their games period in school and not sit back in the classroom when they have free time.
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8. As part of a reward technique, avoid giving chocolates or taking your children out for pizza. Instead you can give them toys or books or clothes, or you can spend quality time with your children.
9. Apart from making children study sincerely, parents should encourage children to have a hobby. These hobbies could include skipping or dancing or cycling.
(Dr Gorika Bansal is a Visiting Consultant Pediatrician at Max Hospital, Saket and Rainbow Children's Hospital.)
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