Monday, July 06, 2015
Children constantly battle the obesity demon especially when they are surrounded by a tempting variety of foods. However, it turns out, the first steps to keep this demon from demolishing the health of children begin at home.
Improve diet and activity levels at home to keep childhood obesity at bay, suggest the new guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
In a new paper published in the journal Pediatrics, AAP revised its decade old guidelines with increased focus on obesity prevention. "Once obesity is established, it's very hard to treat. The home environment has a big influence on what kids eat and how active they are," said Dr. Stephen Daniels, chairman of the AAP nutrition committee.
The guidelines enlist the following simple measure to counter childhood obesity.
- Buy smart. Stocking up on healthy foods and ensuring age appropriate portion sizes would mean children make good food choices at home.
- Control purchase of artificially sweetened beverages. Thirsty? Offer water, milk and limited quantities of 100% fruit juice instead.
- Make healthier food more visible and accessible. Calorific foods can be wrapped and relegated to the last shelf or back of the pantry.
- Reduce opportunities for sedentary entertainment in the form of TV, computers, and video games. The meal area should not have these distractions for kids.
- Limit screen time to not more than 2 hours a day. Usually kids snack and watch TV thus combining calories and sedentary behaviour.
- Overweight children should be encouraged to self-monitor their actions by maintaining a food and activity diary. Both parents and children can set goals and review the diary logs. Non-food rewards such as spending quality time with a parent in an activity would be wonderful.
- Ensure children get enough sleep as lack of sleep has also shown to be a contributing factor for obesity.
- Lastly, parents should themselves be an ideal role model by choosing healthy foods and exercising. These measures should be practised by parents who are struggling with weight issues themselves.
Dr. Daniel agrees these rules may be easier said than practised but parents can choose one behaviour change at a time and implement that. Raining the child with praises for good behaviour can also help in providing the anti-obesity movement some momentum.
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