Today we are seeing an increasing problem in children who are overweight or obese. While there are a number of factors leading to this issue, the primary cause of childhood obesity appears to be the result of poor diet and lack of physical exercise.
The National Council for Children deals with a range of childhood concerns, some of which include children with poor self-esteem and confidence as a result of being overweight or obese.
Today, the World Health Organisation (WHO) regards childhood obesity as one of the most serious global public health challenges for the 21st century. This is highly concerning given the health risks associated with being overweight or obese. Additionally, once established, it is very difficult to treat obesity and the health issues that result.
Not only do children experience the health problems that come with being overweight or obese, but also the emotional and psychological effects as a result of being teased by their peers, discriminated or bullied, leading to low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
Today, we are seeing fewer children living an active lifestyle. With the improvement of technology, we see more children becoming sedentary, meaning they are sitting around a lot more. This has a lot to do with the use of computers, video games, social media and television. We now know that too much ‘screen’ time and not enough physical activity is adding to the problem of childhood obesity.
This is a worrying factor in our culture, given the serious short and long term health effects of being overweight and obese. Obese children are more likely suffer from illnesses such as asthma, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and other health issues; be absent from school due to illness, experience health-related limitations and require more medical care than normal weight children.Additionally, children who are overweight or obese are also likely to become obese or overweight adults, leading to further serious health and medical issues, all of which have an impact on our society.
As a society, we need to recognise this issue, and encourage our children to develop healthier lifestyles that include healthy eating and physical activity. We also need to limit the amount of ‘screen’ time children have when watching television, playing video games or using social media. In fact, it is recommended that school age children have at least 60 minutes or more of physical activity per day, broken up throughout the day, with younger children having at least 30 to 60 minutes. When we talk about physical activity, we are talking about activities that make us ‘huff and puff’, such as swimming, running or riding a bike.
We all want our children to grow into healthy and happy adults, so to combat this problem we have to make changes to our lifestyle and be good role models for our children. To achieve this, we can:
- Encourage our children to take part in a sport, or to get outside and play. Children gain great benefits in terms of their social and emotional development through play, and should be encouraged to regularly play with their peers.
- Exercise regularly as a family and encourage our children to be involved. This could be as easy as going for a walk every day, having a swim every afternoon or playing a family sport.
- Incorporate activity into our daily routine to make sure we get what we call ‘incidental’ exercise. This could mean using the stairs instead of the lift, walking instead of driving or taking the bus.
- Eat well and teach our children about the importance of healthy eating.
- Lastly, play with our children. It’s a great way to get fit while having fun.
Besides enjoying the health benefits of regular exercise, kids who are physically fit sleep better, are better able to handle physical and emotional challenges and are able to concentrate and learn better. We all want to see our children have a long, healthy and happy life, so let us be positive role models for our children and incorporate physical activity into our lifestyles every day.
Contributed by the National Council for Children
Source : Seychelles NATION