Our obese children

It’s not surprising so many of us are overweight nowadays. There is fast food everywhere. You can sit down at your computer or television for hours on end. Both parents work, come home from the office late and are too tired to be active with the kids, or to cook a healthy meal.

It’s also not surprising that an increasing number of South African children are overweight. As many as one-fifth of all boys and one-quarter of all girls have weight problems.

Type 2 diabetes used to affect mainly adults – now children have to cope with it. Obesity is a difficult cycle to break. Often obese children become obese adults.

Overweight people are prone to diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, sleep apnoea and osteoarthritis. Obesity puts you at risk for cancer of the breast, colon, endometrium, oesophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix and prostate.

[XHEAD] The parents’ role

As a parent, you can help prevent obesity in your child. You can save your child and teach him/her to follow a healthy lifestyle.

Your child follows your example. Your child eats the food you buy. Your child plays the games and watches the movies you bring home.

Have a meeting at home and discuss the dangers of obesity. Tell your child it’s time for change. Allow every member of the family to give input.

Discuss physical activity. Go for a walk as a family every evening. Take the dog for a walk in the park on weekends. Sign your children up for physical extra-curricular activities, such as dancing, netball, swimming, or soccer. Get your friends together and play a friendly cricket match.

Fill the fridge with healthy fresh fruit and vegetables. Make turns preparing healthy meals.
Challenge each other to watch less TV and ignore the computer for a while.

Make your new lifestyle a fun lifestyle. Changing negative habits can be very difficult, especially in the beginning. Try to keep the disagreement light. Praise each other’s accomplishments. Do not give up. Keep to your healthy schedule. Mark a “Triumph Day” on next year’s calendar – and a year from now you will all be winners.

[National Nutrition Week takes place between 9-15 October, and is followed by Obesity Awareness Week from 15-19 October every year in South Africa.]

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