With schools closed and outdoor activities on hold during the nationwide lockdown, obesity concerns have been looming large, for adults as well as children. Especially for children, it is great matter of concern. A study conducted by the University at Buffalo highlights the negative impact lockdown on health among children. The study points out that bad diet, lesser physical activity, lack of mental engagement and disturbed sleep patterns have said to be a leading cause of obesity among children.
The school eco-system offers a structure and routine around mealtimes, study time, physical activities, which helps regulate sleep time. These factors when impaired contributes to an increase in associated risk of obesity.
Obesity among children in India is now an epidemic. Around 14.4 million children in India are obese, making us the second country load with obese kids after China. Now with the lockdown, this number is expected to grow even further. Unfortunately, the excess weight gained during this lockdown may not be easily reversible and might contribute to obesity during adulthood, if healthy behaviours are not re-established soon.
Ways to control obesity among children: Clear the junk food out of the snack pantry and make cooking meals together a part of your family’s routine. Get rid of the fizzy drinks and other beverages with high calories. If your kid is going to have free access to the kitchen all day, stock it with carrots and apples. Make better choices for yourself and for your children. Kids are visual learners, if you eat a cake while telling your kids to eat their veggies, it’s not the example they want to follow.
Additionally, parents could also let their kids do chores that help them stay active, such as mopping the floor, gardening, washing, caring for pets, etc. Assign age-appropriate tasks every day to keep them busy. Set a bedtime and stick to it. Encourage kids to talk about their feelings of stress, and pencil in screen-free family time.
Alongside, you should also keep a keen eye to ensure that:
You eat together as a family
Switch off the TV to avoid distraction from mealtime
Do not answer calls, a strict rule of no mobile on the meal table should be enforced and practiced
Ensure that your child eats at least two fruits in a day
Ensure that your child chooses a health snack over a sweet treat, help them choose an apple over a biscuit and a banana over store bought chips
Engage in in-door games with your children
A healthy diet and ample physical & mental activity can help your child stay fit during this lockdown. These simple measures will go beyond the pandemic to inculcate a healthy culture among children. Remember, healthy children lead to healthy adults!