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Childhood obesity is a public health problem whose numbers are alarming in developed countries. However, can a child be put on a diet?
The first thing to clarify is that the term 'diet' does not mean reducing food intake to lose weight or maintain a certain body weight, but refers to the set of foods that are consumed regularly and their amounts. It is not the same to force a mother to reduce the food she offers to her son so that he loses weight, than to try to educate both of them in healthy and age-appropriate nutritional habits.
According to this, when faced with a child diagnosed as being overweight, the first action should be to do a study of your diet, know what foods you eat, how they are cooked, and what is the size of the portions that are offered. This study must be exhaustive, and of at least 3 days, including one on the weekend. In addition, the physical activity that you usually develop should also be detailed.
With these data, it is possible to determine if the cause of your overweight may be due to a lack of physical activity, an excess in caloric intake or a combination of both. The most common, unfortunately, is that a low or no physical activity is added to an unbalanced diet with excess saturated and trans fats, from precooked and industrial pastries, and with portions well above what is recommended for the child's age .
The alternatives once the study is done are several:
- Increase in physical activity if it is low. Today's society has a tendency towards unhealthy sedentary lifestyle, and that is why outdoor games that allow children to be active should be encouraged from childhood.
- Dietary reeducation. Try to eliminate from the diet those foods with a high caloric density and a low nutritional density, favoring the consumption of other healthier ones. Swapping industrial juices for pieces of fruit, cookies for toast or industrial pastries for traditional snacks can make a big difference in caloric intake. Culinary processes that add extra calories to the food, such as frying or battering, should also be avoided.
- Decrease in rations. All mothers are sorry to leave their children hungry, so in this case, it is important that the child himself learns to decide when he has eaten enough, without getting full. Initially, it can help, by reducing the portion, to accompany the vegetable dishes that contribute to the feeling of fullness to which the child is accustomed. Raw vegetables, which take longer to digest, prolong this sensation for longer.
An overweight child means, if left unchecked, an obese adult in the future. As parents, we have in our hands the possibility of shaping our children through the education we offer them. With nutrition education and proper dietary habits, not only are overweight and obesity avoided in childhood, but it is also possible to avoid them in adulthood.
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