Childhood Obesity and Weight Problems

As parents, we all want our kids to be healthy and fit. However, there is no denying the fact that we all love toddlers and babies who have chubby cheeks and a full-plump body. It is just cuter and adorable this way. For some kinds, however, this adorable and cute baby fat can actually become more of a health concern. For those parents who watch their kids constantly go through the struggle of controlling their weight, it is more than heart-breaking. 

If you are a parent going through this situation, then you might be feeling a little helpless for sure. But that is not the case. It is understood that childhood obesity is effective in numerous ways and it is not the child alone but the entire family that gets affected. But then, most of these cases of childhood obesity are preventable and can be easily reversed with the help of support and encouragement.

When it comes to the developed countries, about 1 out of every 4 children have this problem of being overweight or what we call obesity. The additional pounds that are on the kids can put them through a series of tough health problems as well. Some of these problems include diabetes, asthma, and ever some serious heart diseases.

Not just that but childhood obesity can affect the emotional health of the children as well. The children who are overweight might have some difficulties in participating in sports activities and this might keep them from mingling with kids their own age. Also, they might be subjected to occasional teasing and bullying from their peers. These problems can always cause some other serious mental issues such as negative body image problems, low-self esteem and sometimes depression as well.

However, this is a situation that you can easily deal with. There is so much that you can do as parents to help in the situation. Early diagnosis of obesity and weight problems can reduce the risk of getting some other serious medical conditions with age. And if you are involving the entire family in it, then you can pretty easily break the entire circle of issues that are surrounding obesity and weight problems of your kids. This will ultimately lead to a boost of the physical as well as the mental health of the children which is always a good thing. They can easily establish a fit and healthy lifestyle for themselves and have a balanced relationship with food too. It doesn’t really matter what the weight of your child is, as long as you are showing your love and support to them, it won’t matter and you can fight the troubles together.

How Do You Know If A Child Is Overweight?

Well, there is no doubt about the fact that different children have different rates of growth. So, it is not that easy to find out if a child is having weight problems or not. However, the BMI or the Body Mass Index utilizes the measurements of height and weight in order to find out exactly how much fat content is in the body of a child. BMI can be a pretty good indicator but it is not exactly the perfect measure of the body fat inside the child. This is especially the case when the child is undergoing the growth phase.

Different Causes Of Childhood Obesity

Figuring out the reasons why the children become overweight in the first place is a pretty good start when it comes to breaking the obesity cycle. Most of the cases that involve childhood obesity tell us that eating habits and lack of exercise are the main culprits. Children do need enough food in order to have a healthy process of growth. However, if they tend to eat too much then there will be more food going into their system which they are not able to burn out during the whole day and this can often result into the weight gain.

Here are some of the main causes of why children tend to gain more weight and become obese with time.

  • There are some families which are too busy to cook home-made meals and hence the child ends up eating out most of the time. The food outside is filled with fats and can cause weight gain.
  • The children these days have got unlimited access to the cheap and high-calorie junk foods which can be another reason for the weight gain.
  • The food portions served to the kids at the home and in the restaurants tend to be a lot more than it is supposed to be.
  • Kids these days are always consuming sugar-rich sweetened soft drinks which can be considered another main reason.
  • Lack of exercise because the children would rather sit at home and watch TV than go outside and play.
  • Not enough education about physical fitness in schools and at homes as well.

How To Combat Childhood Obesity

Well, there is no doubt about the fact that childhood obesity is a very serious issue for the kids these days. However, there are certain solutions to the problems in hand as well. The healthy habits that you teach them at the home are a pretty good beginning. This is one of the best ways to make sure that children always make healthier decisions when it comes to food and exercise. Getting the whole family involved in the process would give them the inspiration and support that they need. It is really important that children learn to make choices that are healthy for them when it comes to food and exercise. So, lead by example and you might just be able to tackle the problem of childhood obesity before it gets out of hand.

Lead Them To A Healthy Lifestyle

If the child sees that you are eating healthy stuff such as vegetables and fruits and you are also having an active session of workout, they would want to imitate you as well. So, there are a few things that you have to do in order to make that happen. Let them know what you are eating. The children need to know that you are making healthier choices when it comes to food. So, say not to eating outside and always try making meals at home which consist of a nutritious and healthy diet. Also, you can let them know that you are cooking healthy food. If possible provide them with a job in the kitchen such as washing the vegetables and other things. Apart from that, you also need to show your child that you are not wasting time watching TV when you have free time. If the child sees you make an effort then there are chances that they might want to join in as well.

Strategize Everything That You Do

You need to come face to face with the fact that you have control over the kids. Don’t just let them sit around and watch TV or play video games. You need to be a little stern in such cases. Urge them to go and play outside or do a little exercise with you. Encourage the activities that would make them lose weight. You can even take them hiking as well. There is nothing that is more rejuvenating than a good hike. Also, you need to take care of the fact that the changes that you make in their habits have to be small and at a slow pace. Sudden changes might just cause them to revolt and disobey you. So, start with something small such as introducing small workout sessions with the family or quitting regular consumption of dessert. This can be a great help for sure.

Make Some Healthy Choices When It Comes To Food

You cannot deny the fact that changes need to be made in the eating habits of the family if you need to control the weight of your child. However, doing everything at once is not really a good idea. There are chances that your children might cheat or give up on the whole thing. Take small baby steps and it will lead to a habit formation for sure. You need to encourage your child to have healthy choices when it comes to food and they need to eat more vegetables and fruits as well. Vegetables and fruits have nutrients in them which can be healthy for the child.

Also, breakfast needs to be a priority for sure. It is proven that the children who have their breakfast on a regular basis have fewer chances of getting obesity. Since it is the first meal that they have on the whole day, breakfast is something that shouldn’t be avoided at all cost. Hidden sugar food items are a strict no. So, they might have to say goodbye to the occasional candies and desserts that they have. Also, the sweetened drinks and other junk food items should be kept out of reach. This is one of the best ways to control weight.

Childhood obesity is a problem that most families have to deal with. However, with the help of these tips, one can actually help the child in keeping their weight under control.


Mark Lamplugh Jr. is a fourth generation firefighter and former captain with the Lower Chichester (PA) Fire Company. He is now the Vice President of Business Development with Solid Landings Behavioral Health. He is nationally recognized in Crisis Stress Intervention through the American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress. Mark has placed and referred hundreds of firefighters, police officers, EMS personal and civilians nationwide. He can be reached for comment at [email protected]