Is your child at risk of being overweight or obese? One study says your style of parenting can be affecting his weight. Learn more about childhood obesity here.
In this article, you’ll read:
- STUDY: Positive parenting can decrease the risk of obesity in children
- Childhood obesity symptoms
- How to help your child maintain a healthy weight
We all know that our style and way of parenting can have an effect on our child’s mood. But did you know that it can also have an effect on your child’s weight?
According to a recent study from Pennsylvania State University, the risk of childhood obesity can be diminished by having good parental relationships at a young age.
This particular study concludes that exposure to familial psychosocial assets like a comfortable quality home environment, a good emotional support system and a child’s ability to self-regulate play a huge role in reducing the possibility of child obesity.
The researchers also found that children with severe obesity (those whose body mass index are 20 per cent higher than the obesity threshold), however, did have fewer family assets than children who were not obese or who displayed moderate levels of obesity.
Is your child obese?
According to World obesity.org, 5 out of 11 children in Singapore are considered to be obese.
In 2017, 17 per cent of Singapore schoolchildren were obese, based on the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s National Population Health Survey. Some hospitals also reported seeing more cases of overweight children since COVID-19 hit.
Image source: iStock
Symptoms and Manifestations of Childhood Obesity
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a child is considered obese if his BMI is at or above the 95th percentile for children his age. Other symptoms of obesity in children are the following”
- Fatty tissue deposits (this can be noticeable in the breast area)
- The appearance of stretch marks on the hips and back
- Acanthosis nigricans (dark velvety skin around the neck and other areas)
- Dark discolouration in the neck area commonly can be found
- Shortness of breath with physical activity
- Sleep apnea (this may possibly occur due to a depressed signal from the brainstem to initiate a breath)
- Presence of digestive disorders such as constipation and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Having low self-esteem
- Early puberty in girls/delayed puberty in boys
- Orthopaedic problems, such as flat feet or dislocated hips
Aside from affecting their sleep and their mood, children who are obese are also at risk for health complications such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders and heart disease. For this reason, it is very important to help keep your child at a normal weight to prevent these complications.
The picture that speaks a thousands words about rising obesity levels among Singapore kids
Childhood Obesity: When It Becomes More Than Just “Baby Fat”
Infographic: Why should you be concerned about childhood obesity?
How to help your child maintain a healthy weight
Luckily, there are ways to prevent childhood obesity from occurring. Here are some reminders for parents of growing kids:
Feed growing children in appropriate portion sizes
While we feel good when our children eat a lot, make sure you’re not overfeeding them. It is considered good practice to have children eat the right portions of food.
Studies say breastfeeding your baby diminishes the possibilities of child obesity.
Build good early relationships with healthy foods as a habit
Avoid giving your child junk and processed food that is low in nutrients and high in sugar and bad fats. Instead, train your child to eat more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.
Eat healthy foods together as a family
Eating healthy meals as a family will help children develop a natural habit of eating healthy foods.
Encourage chewing slowly and only when hungry/necessary
Does your child like to stuff his mouth with food as if he is in a hurry? Is he fond of eating snacks throughout the day? Teaching your child good eating habits like chewing slowly and reducing snacks will give him an appetite for his healthy meals and help in achieving a balanced diet.
Engage in physical activities
Encourage your child to keep moving, even while inside the home. You can watch and do exercise videos or yoga together. If you have the opportunity to go outdoors, a 30-minute walk every day can help him achieve a normal BMI.
Make sure he gets enough sleep
According to Sleep Foundation.org, sleep deprivation is associated with growth hormone deficiency and elevated cortisol levels which are both linked to obesity.
Monitor what your child is eating outside of the home
Make sure that your child is not only eating healthy at home but also when he is in school. Initiating a discussion with your child’s school about proper nutrition for students is one way to go about it.
If there is one thing we should learn about the research from Penn State, it is that a lot of good effects come out of being good parents.
However, we should not be uber strict with our children’s food intake. Make sure that fruits and vegetables is mixed with the right portion of “fun” snacks too.
As parents, it is our duty to let our children understand the importance of eating clean and having a balanced diet at a young age. This way, they will have an appreciation for healthy food and overall wellness.