causes of weight gain in children should be a concern for every parent. Therefore, knowing how to prevent excessive weight gain can help parents eliminate obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases such as heart disease and diabetes in children.
It is ironical that older people are the ones struggling to get healthier when children’s health is declining. This trend is reported to be escalating every year. Most kids are not healthy nor are they physically fit because of the lifestyle they lead.
Overweight children often suffer from orthopedic medical problems; they also experience social and psychological issues such as being mocked by other children at school for being overweight.
Here are the leading causes of weight gain in children and how to fix them.
Physical Inactivity causes weight gain.
Physical inactivity causes weight gain. Children, especially those from affluent homes lead a sedentary lifestyle. They are not involved in any physical activity both at home and at school. Health classes or fitness centers are often unpopular with children. Fitness is a booming trend with adults, not children.
It is the older people who go to wellness centers and watch what they eat. Low levels of physical exercise cause weight gain and obesity in children. Children spend most of their time in front of TVs instead of being involved in physical activities such as running or skating.
What to do
Children should be involved in daily exercises at least for one hour. Get them out to play or enroll them in some recreational activity like swimming or running. Limit the amount of time your kids spend watching the television, play video games or use an electronic device. Replace TV watching with regular study and reading time.
Identify your child’s hobbies and interests and encourage her to participate in them. Take her for library visits, enroll her in a dance or music class. Involve her in family activities or adventures to keep her busy and physically fit.
Unhealthy diet causes weight gain.
It is unfortunate that fast foods and genetically modified foods that cause weight gain replace our kid’s diet. Fast food chains and snack machines are everywhere, stuffed with junk foods, soft drinks, and snacks. Seeing them tempt children to buy and eat even when they are not hungry.
Parents are so busy today than they used to be in the old days. They tend to prioritize their jobs and happiness before that of their children. They don’t have the time to prepare healthy family meals.
We stuff unhealthy snacks and highly processed and concentrated foods in our panties instead of filling them with healthy food choices. These contribute to weight gain.
To fix this,
As a parent, you need to make time to prepare healthy meals and snacks at home. Serve your children three meals a day at regular intervals. The food you prepare should contain lots of whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruits. Get them to eat more vegetables and fruits; Vegetables are rich in nutrients and fiber. Eliminate or limit snacks so that your child can have a better appetite during meal times. You can read more on foods that help with weight loss here.
Let your children eat when they are hungry and try to give smaller portions of food each time. Do not serve too much food and force them to finish.
Encourage them to drink water instead of store-bought fruit juices. Discourage eating or snaking especially on sugary snacks and sodas or juices when watching TV; this is not healthy and can lead to overeating.
Lack of proper rest/Sleep.
Lack of enough sleep makes children tired and inactive. It leads to a decrease and increases in the production of hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin respectively. These hormones are responsible for the regulation of appetite. Leptin aids in decreasing the appetite while ghrelin increases it.
Lack of enough sleep contributes to a decrease in leptin and makes a person feel hungry most of the time; it also slows down the body’s metabolism and leads to an increase in appetite and food consumption. These causes weight gain. Kids tend to eat a lot when tired, please try to ensure they get enough rest.
Ghrelin levels increase making the person feel hungry and want to eat; these contribute to overeating and causes weight gain. Giving children more food to eat especially at night keeps them awake for long hours.
Lack of enough sleep also reduces the ability of fat cells to respond to insulin. It can lead to resistance in insulin production which can cause diabetes.
To fix this,
put your kids to sleep early enough and let then have a quiet rest. Teenagers should sleep for at least nine hours at night while younger ones need more.
Your child’s emotional status can contribute to weight gain. Some children eat more when they are unhappy or neglected. A sudden change in your child’s eating behavior should be a wake-up call for you to take action.
If you notice that your child, who once played actively starts behaving strangely like burrowing himself in his room alone all day eating junk or show disinterest in the things he loved doing, could be signs of depression.
Depression can cause weight gain in children. A depressed child tends to eat more to compensate for desperation. He will try to fill up his unhappiness and loneliness with sweet treats and carbohydrate to feel better.
Depression can also deprive them of sleep and contribute to unhealthy attitudes towards eating healthy which can lead to weight gain.
How to fix this
As a parent try to understand your child, identify the causes or triggers to his behavior and find a solution to them. Look for his unmet emotional needs and try to meet them.
Show him, unconditional love and support, let him see that you care. Do not be judgmental or scold him for contributing to the condition. That will make him feel sad and more depressed.
Stop buying unhealthy treats and snacks that cause weight gain, instead encourage your child to eat healthily. Help him make healthy choices. For example, encourage your child to eat more fruits and vegetables instead of chocolate. Try to focus more on your child’s health, please do not just feed him only what he wants to eat.
Try to be involved in your child’s struggle too. Doing so can help solve the problem causing his depression. For instance, if it is his appearance that is causing his distress, reassure him and make him feel special; let him know that you appreciate and love him just the way he is.
Support him in his therapy journey to recovery. Involve him in family activities such as going for a walk together. Spending more time with your child helps reduce stress and improves his mental health.
Genetics can cause weight gain
Genetics can lead to weight gain especially if obesity tends to run in the family gene. Children can become overweight by inheriting their family genes.
Research shows that obesity risk is higher for a child with a family history of obesity as opposed to a child with no family history of obesity. Children of overweight parents are likely to become obese.
Though genes can cause weight gain in children, the environment plays an important role too. If parents provide an environment that will support weight gain, their children will become overweight.
What to do
You can still reduce weight gain even when your child is predisposed to weight gain. Encourage and help your child to make healthy choices, get involved in physical activities and limit the time for watching TV or playing computer games.
Parents should strive to bring up healthy children by making healthy lifestyle choices. Make healthy and lasting lifestyle changes for their children.
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