There are some undeniable truths in this world. One of those truths is that childhood obesity is on the rise. More children are considered obese, morbidly obese and overweight now more than ever before. That truth leads to another one. More children are facing major health risks now and for later in life. That, my friends, brings us to a third truth. More and more children are being placed on diets! I want you to think about this for a second and as parents compare that notion to when we were growing up. How many times did you hear that a child is going on a diet?! For weight loss!!!!! Fast forward to the present and these sad truths are our reality. Dieting has become more than a trend in our world today. It has become a necessity! And with that necessity comes complex feelings of anxiety about the child’s health, a guilt about the idea of denying a child food, a fear of the complexity of treatments that have to take into consideration the complex growth and metabolism and needs of the child while balancing and limiting food intake. What should be eaten? How much? What makes it work? What are the parent’s responsibilities? How will they know? It is hard enough for you to diet for yourself, let alone try to implement this on your child! Here are some general guideline and simple facts to consider. As always, please consult with your health care provider for more information.
To evaluate a child, we look at their height and weight. These are referred to as growth charts. They are charts that when used show us where the child is compared to kids his or her own size and age. When someone goes on a weight loss diet, that person is consuming fewer calories than the body uses. This type of diet works for adults. Children should not diet that way because they are still growing and they need all the necessary nutrition. In order to help an overweight kid lose some weight we should give him a balanced healthy meal plan with lots of physical activity. That means stop television, stop video and computer games and have them spend their days outside. Summer is upon us and there are a ton of activities that they can do. Have them do them all if necessary. Use their God given metabolism to their advantage. It only comes once in a life time. They burn things so fast. Just think of how much a child has to be over fed to gain weight! So, what do we feed them?
Parents need to make sure that their children are eating a healthy balanced diet containing all of the food groups; fruits and vegetables, milk and dairy products, meats and grains, bread and cereals, and healthy fats. Healthy eating habits are acquired from early age. Teach your children about the benefits of healthy foods. For example, explain to them how proteins can help them be stronger and grow taller. Eat healthy as a family; don’t buy junk food for the house, sit down together at dinner, and try to introduce healthy foods in a fun way to your children.
Remember this: The rate limiting step in your child’s health and development is us as parents. If we do not know, our children will never know and they will suffer. Childhood obesity starts with the parents and the family, and it is a consequence of many factors. We as parents try to give our children the best this life has to offer: religion, education, morals, and health. We do not want them to be sick. We, as parents, are not doing such a great job. Our children are growing more and more obese. And they need our help.
Dieting is a discipline that is based on scientific data and approaches. It is not for anyone and should not be administered by anyone. If you seek professional help for your child, make sure that professional is qualified. We spend enormous amount of time looking for the best mechanic, the best clothe stores, the best schools, the best restaurants, the best whatever. When it comes to our health, we are all guilty of not doing that. Our children should not suffer that. If your doctor can’t do it, and please ask him or her if they are qualified and how, then seek more professional help. Nutrition for children is a complex and demanding field, not unlike any other medical specialty in kids. Make sure, like everything else you try to get them, that they get the best out there.