Considered one of the major health problems of the century, childhood obesity has reached critical levels around the world.

An overweight child is at risk of physical, emotional and psychological issues and is likely to stay overweight as an adult, severely impacting their performance and quality of life.

As a father, it is important for you to understand the facts, help your child stay fit and develop a positive body image.

Daddy’s Digest has put together some pointers to help you understand childhood obesity.

1. Obesity is a medical condition and Body Mass Index (BMI) is the most common guideline of measurement.

2. An obese child has excessive body fat and their weight is above the acceptable limit for their sex, age and height. A qualified medical professional will use a growth chart to assess your child’s BMI vis-a-vis these characteristics.

3. When your child’s intake of calories (from food and drink) is higher than the number of calories they burn (through a combination of daily activity, physical activity and rest), they are at risk of obesity.

4. Factors that cause weight gain are:

  • An unhealthy diet
  • Lack of exercise or physical activity
  • Poor health habits in the family
  • Genetic history
  • Environmental factors
  • Certain medical conditions

5. Psychological factors (E.g. stress, low self-esteem, depression, physical & emotional changes) may lead to overeating as a way of coping with difficult emotions. It is important to talk to your child about mental health, emotional well-being and cultivating positive habits.

Here how you can help your child maintain a healthy weight.

1. Children need a nutritious and healthy diet that includes a balance of all food groups (Carbohydrates, Proteins, Dairy, Fruits, Vegetables and Fats).

2. Serve portion sizes that are right for their age and account for physical activity (or lack of).

3. Limit their consumption of unhealthy food and drink (E.g. sweetened beverages, junk and fast food).

4. Encourage physical activity, fun outdoor time and sports.

5. Model positive behavior and set the right example for your child. Eat and drink healthy, exercise, spend outdoor time together and eat meals as a family.

6. Seek the guidance of a nutritionist or qualified professional if you are unable to comprehend their specific dietary needs.

7. A medical doctor may need to assess the reason for your child's weight gain in order to determine if it is lifestyle related or due to an underlying medical condition.

Our guide outlines the facts based on research from several online and offline resources. If you are in doubt or worried about your child’s health and/or safety for any reason, consult with a qualified medical care professional or doctor immediately.

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