How to talk to children about weight and obesity
In India, these days, obesity is more of an epidemic than just a lifestyle disorder. And children are being affected worse than ever. Increasing consumption of junk foods, lack of sufficient physical activity, and lack of awareness about nutrition are some common reasons behind this. So, it’s time that parents discuss this health problem with their children, with the right attitude, so that the kids can grow up to be healthy adults.
Owing to childhood obesity, one in every four children of the current generation might end up with diabetes in the future, as studies show. Today, many parents ask - my daughter/son is overweight, what can I do? Well, monitoring your toddler’s weight, feeding him natural and nutritious foods, and encouraging him to lose excess kilos can be beneficial. However, you need to go about it the right way, so that your child’s self-confidence or self-esteem is not harmed. A caring and open discussion can get the ball rolling.
Kids’ obesity and ways to tackle it
If you are wondering how to talk to your teenage daughter about her weight, remember that kids and especially teenagers are very sensitive, and you cannot just control their way of living without being thoughtful. Weight loss in children is quite a sensitive issue but is also of great importance, as overweight or obese kids can develop life-threatening diseases in the future and have low life expectancy. So, here are some tips to help:
- Talk to them, motivate, and inculcate healthy habits early
You need to counsel your child and make him or her realize the issues and obstacles they might face if they are overweight. Explain why they need the right balance of nutrients. The best way to get started is by consulting a dietician or a nutritionist, who can explain it all in a constructive manner. It is not always possible to monitor or control what children eat, especially when they go out with friends or to school. Parents can, however, achieve a lot by teaching their children right from an early age to develop healthy eating habits. Make sure they eat home-cooked meals as much as possible, with occasional treats, so that they do not feel entirely deprived. This way, they will slowly lose the urge to eat unhealthily outside.
- Encourage them to participate in weight loss camps
It is often difficult to motivate kids to lose weight, but as parents, you know how it can boost their confidence later on. Now, children often crave ice cream or fried snacks when they are hungry, which is natural. But giving in to their demands can be harmful for them, which is why a weight loss camp can be a good idea.
This could be a new beginning for your child who might have endured jokes and rejections due to their obesity. They might be self-conscious about their weight too. He or she might be aware that they cannot move fast, or get tired early, or cannot participate in sports. A weight loss camp can help them overcome these fears, get them to become active in a structured manner, and lose weight in a healthy way.
In these camps, they will meet other children with similar problems. These camps do not teach to eat less or withhold eating. They teach kids methods and techniques to make smarter choices while also explaining food nutrition. They teach exercises that can help children shed excess weight, and develop strength, flexibility, and balance. Counsellors at these camps can teach children and teens to eat healthily, develop self-confidence and self-respect.
- Give them all the support they need
Kids’ obesity is not something that can be handled simply or easily. They need a lot of support from their parents and peers to overcome this. So, you should always offer good advice and positive motivation. These tips can help:
- Find a caring and like-minded group for your child. The results will be faster and he or she will stay motivated.
- Make your family doctor his counsellor. As your child has known him for a long time, he or she will be able to open up more easily.
- Speak to the school and the student counsellor at school regarding healthy lunches.
- Look for a close relative who is well-connected to your kid and can inspire him to eat healthy. Or, maybe he or she can monitor your child's eating habits when you are away at work.
- Encourage your child by showing him videos of other children who have turned around their world by losing weight.
Have patience and trust. The road to losing weight might not seem easy, but with a few smart steps, good health and a better life can be your child’s to enjoy.