Obesity is a major problem now faced by many societies all over the world. But it is especially alarming in children.
In the United States alone, it has been reported that there are over nine million children, aged six and above, suffering from obesity and their numbers are still increasing.
Asian children, although generally still considered healthy, are now also at a great risk especially with the rising popularity of fast food joints and junk food kiosks.
In the Philippines, a simple trip to the supermarket could be a veritable battlefield for a child and his parent with the high volume of snacks and candies on display at the snack aisle, or aisles, as the case may be.
Childhood obesity is not only a problem for the health risks it poses (type-2 diabetes, heart problems in adulthood), but also for possible humiliation and depression if the child is subjected to public ridicule and bullying.
Most parents are already aware that children need to eat healthy and exercise more to lessen the risk of becoming obese. But being aware isnt enough. As a parent, it is your duty to make sure that your child lives a healthy, normal life.
Be the example
To set your child on the right path to health and fitness, first things first, assess your own wellness habits. More often than not, parents of obese children tend to be obese themselves.
Be sure that you yourself are willing to make certain sacrifices in your eating and exercising habits so as to set a good example for your children.
Even if you are not obese, it is still a good idea to set a wellness goal for yourself. Show her that you are an active, health-conscious parent and there is a strong chance that your child will follow suit.
Get them involved
Children are naturally curious little beings. Ever notice how your little one seems to cling to your every word and replicates your every action?
Make good use of his curiosity and her inquisitiveness by letting them join you in preparing meals.
If they are younger, and cant really help in the duties in the kitchen, let them help by naming fruits and vegetables in the pantry (but make sure you know what those veggies are and how to prepare them, should they decide to ask).
Older children can be put to good use in mixing together ingredients, or you can also stand watch over them as they pour ingredients and press buttons on the food processor.
If you have money to spare, you can also purchase ceramic knives that are especially suited for younger ‘chefs. These knives are rather sharp when it comes to cutting food but is incredibly dull on delicate fingers.
Same goes for physical activity. Choose one that can easily involve the whole family, such as bike-riding, running in the backyard or simply walking around the block.
Be understanding but firm
Lastly, be prepared for a confrontation with your child once you decide that the whole family needs to be healthier.
For some children, even some adults, the junk food has been a form of addiction. Not as serious as a drug addiction, but it can be just as difficult to break.
If there should ever come a time when your child starts wailing and screaming about the hideous green thing on his plate, dont get mad. Stay calm. Yelling at him at the same time will not help matters. If anything, it will make things worse.
As with most tantrum fits, its best to ignore them. Let them wail and scream all they want; if you need to, carry the child to a safe, isolated area where he can let the tantrum run its course. Then calmly sit him down to explain why you both need to make a change in your diet.
But whatever you do, dont use food as a reward or a punishment. Try to firmly stick to the rules you have set for the whole family. Remember that you are not depriving your child of fun foods; instead you are helping him make better decisions, health-wise.
In other words, be a mentor, not a dictator.