Learn to Overcome Obesity in Children

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Obesity-in-Children_cAny parent who has tried to prise a child off the sofa or away from their computer to go outside and get some exercise will know that children are becoming increasingly sedentary, more often than not moving nothing but a few fingers on the television or video remote control. In a recent survey, 40 per cent of boys and 60 per cent of girls failed to meet the recommended minimum of 1 hour a day of moderate exercise.

Today's children are likely to live shorter lives than their parents. Lack of exercise and junk food diets mean that children are storing up serious health difficulties for the future - obesity, heart disease, weakened bone structure and cancer.

In childhood, when bones are forming, exercise is essential because it stimulates the deposition of minerals, especially calcium, in their bones. However, if children are active, they will grow up with a good bone density, which reduces the risk of osteoporosis (weakened bones) later in life.

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The more active children are, the hungrier they become and the more they eat. Because they eat more food, their intake of vitamins and minerals is higher. Inactive children have less appetite, eat less and therefore may not get a sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals. Children who are physically active tend to have lower blood pressure and have a better profile of vitamins in their blood.

Physical activity builds up muscle strength and overall fitness and develops important physical skills like balance and coordination. Children who develop an active lifestyle and are introduced to a variety of physical activities are much more likely to continue that healthy lifestyle in adulthood.

Helping to overcome obesity

The fatty deposits that lead to heart disease can already be found in the arteries of pre-school children and mature-onset diabetes - the type that normally affects middle-aged people is already becoming a growing problem for kids in America. The number of obese six- to seven-year-olds has doubled in the last ten years. If you are concerned about your child's weight, you should consult your GP, who might refer you to a State Registered Dietitian.

Unlike adults, overweight children should not be put on a restricted diet. Children are still growing and it is important that they eat a balanced, varied diet that provides adequate energy and protein as well as essential nutrients such as calcium and iron.

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Instead, by adopting a long-term approach to healthy eating, it should be possible to ensure that a child's weight keeps apace of his increasing height. It is better by far to adopt a healthier eating plan rather than cutting down on the amount of food offered. No child should ever go hungry.

A child should feel loved and not judged - focus on health rather than appearance. Overweight children know they are fat. Attacking the weight itself could push a child to turn even more to food as emotional sustenance.

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