According to WHO, by 2022, there will be more obese children and adolescents than underweight.
If that hypothesis isn’t terrifying enough, then take a look at the last four decades. From 1975 to 2016, obese children and adolescents’ tally rose from 11 million to 124 million – bigger than a tenfold increase. Not to mention – an additional 213 million children were overweight in 2016.
It’s fair to say that the predictions and also the recorded numbers are beyond absurd, but it’s not the time to just shrug your shoulders and think, “well, there’s nothing I can do about it.” If health organizations and governments can’t fix every children’s lifestyle, then definitely you as an adult can do it.
In this article, you’ll find the five most common childhood and adolescent obesity causes, which are avoidable or reparable. Hopefully, you’ll find here something that you could do already today to help your kids avoid obesity and obesity-related diseases – all in all, save their lives.
#1 – Too Strict Rules Regarding Food
As we mentioned in our latest article regarding the psychological factors of obesity, one of the main drivers for overeating and, therefore, obesity is strict rules and discipline. It may sound counterintuitive at first, but actually, it makes a lot of sense.
If the house rules are tight and inflexible, e.g., parents are aggressively forcing their child to eat their veggies and other green foods, the child develops subconsciously an understanding that healthy equals disgusting or something that makes them feel framed or imposed.
When this kind of mental block forms, children tend to start eating fast food and sweets as a sign of protest and to soothe their emotions. This habit can stick with them for a lifetime.
#2 – Or The Opposite – Too Lenient Rules
Even though excessive strictness can be harmful, as harmful is the other side of the spectrum, which is no rules or discipline at all when it comes to food.
Letting your child eat whatever they want, how much they want, and how frequently they want is especially dangerous. Even most adults don’t think about it, but children particularly don’t know what they actually are eating – they label it all from snacks and sweets to sugary beverages as “food.” But whether it’s healthy for their body, does it fit their nutritional needs, or how much of something is healthy, and where are the borders – no clue.
It’s your responsibility as a parent to guide your kids from the early ages to the right and healthy foods and choices and observe your children’s eating habits and how their bodies react to the food. If you see some suspicious changes in their mood or body, don’t hesitate to contact a nutrition specialist to put out the fire before the flames could affect their lives.
#3 – Unsupportive Environment
Children and adolescents incline to take up behavioral patterns, habits, and more from their parents, friends, and family members. The types of food available at home, family mealtimes, and family members’ overall food preferences can impact the foods that kids eat. The same applies to physical activity.
It doesn’t really matter if a parent tells them to eat healthily, be more active, and move around – if the parents themselves are still eating junk food and sitting on the couch all day, the kids pick it up. Rather than obeying your words, they are mirroring your behavior.
You are one of the biggest influencers and role models to your children. Give your best to act like it. You will be surprised how quickly your youngster picks up the new, positive habits from you.
Also, keep your eye on the circle your child spends the most time with. If you see any negative behavior against your child or are their friends setting a bad standard, step in and take charge. Bullying or name-calling in school is one of the most harmful things that can mess up a child’s self-esteem and confidence, leading to searching for comfort and consolation from food.
#4 – Lack of Love and Attention
If the parents are always busy with work, they lack sufficient parenting skills, or they’re economically struggling to feed a large family, it all has a tremendous effect on the development of a child. The children who feel neglected learn to fill the void of love, attention, and recognition with food because they aren’t aware of other alleviating solutions than eating.
Children and adolescents are also very open to take everything said to them as the absolute truth; it becomes part of their nature and often sticks with them for the rest of their lives. That’s why it’s crucial to control as a parent what you are saying to your children, whether you’re labeling them or how your behavior makes them feel.
Also, talking to your kid eye to eye, listening to their daily thoughts and problems, and providing them a shoulder to lean and cry on is something that every child needs. This moment between you and them means a world to your youngster and can help them henceforth find consolation and relief from you, rather than from unhealthy food.
#5 – Low Activity Levels
I guess this doesn’t come as a surprise for you. One of the fundamental factors that is linked to obesity is a sedentary lifestyle. In fact, each additional hour of watching TV, or nowadays sitting on the phone, per day increases the potentiality of obesity by 2%.
To be precise, the act of watching television itself isn’t the only problem. The other part of the equation is the consumption of advertisements of sweets, beverages, fast food, cereals, etc. It brainwashes children to only crave these foods, and as an obedient parent, you buy for your child whatever they want, right?
Coming back to the initial point, a sedentary lifestyle leads children to spend fewer calories than they’re consuming every day and this drives them closer to overweight and obesity. Start working out or moving more with your kids so that they won’t develop any obesity-related diseases, such as:
- type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance,
- high blood pressure and high cholesterol,
- joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort,
- breathing problems, such as sleep apnea and asthma,
- fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn).
As you can see, there are plenty of things you can do to save your children’s health and possibly their whole life if you step in and take action now. In case you need any assistance with setting up the right action plan or want to visit the nutritionist with your kid, shoot us a message and let’s take the right steps before it’s too late!