Helping An Obese Child & What Schools Can Do
Effects Of Obesity On Children
Obesity in kids can lead to Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, early heart problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and bone problems are and other related conditions.
It can cause sleeping problems, body aches, acne, and loss of energy and stamina.
A big side effect is that children have self-esteem issues often caused by negative body image and relentless teasing at school among their peers.
They may be bullied in school or be acutely conscious of their body and feel different to other children and this might result in secondary problems like depression, stress, anger issues, inability to adjust to different situations, withdrawal and an inferiority complex.
In the long run, it has been noted that overweight children also go on to become overweight adults. The psychological problems persist and may transcend into more tangible forms like drug abuse and alcoholism for example.
Other problems also arise in adults such as heart disease, cancer, osteoarthritis, diabetes, stroke, and shortened life expectancy
Inactivity, a habit garnered during the growing up years also manifests itself in adult life.
Children who preferred video gaming and television to sports may continue being ‘couch potatoes’ in their adult life as well. This lifestyle is extremely harmful not only for the person but also friends and family close to him as it may lead to social alienation and hostility between people.
Dealing With Obese and Overweight Kids : Parents know their children best. They are the first ones to notice that something is not right. They are also aware of the family history and roots. Dieticians maintain that hormonal and genetic problems may also lead to children becoming overweight.
In such cases, parents need to be extra careful from the beginning to ensure that the child maintains a healthy lifestyle which includes proper full meals at mealtimes, healthy snacks, and loads of exercise from extracurricular activities and sports.
For children, who are continuously growing, losing a bit of baby fat isn’t as difficult as it is for adults. A few subtle changes will have major effects in a relatively short period of time.
The point to keep in mind is to not do anything too drastic. Instead slowly ease into the problem and tackle it subtly. This is the best course of action.
Lastly, it is important to treat every child in the family in the same way as much as you can. Do not single out one child for his/her weight issues or problems. This may do more harm than good. So where do you start ?
10 Steps To Making Changes
Always come from a place of love and support. Offer encouragement and positive reinforcement for even the smallest of achievements in weight loss or exercise.
Seek Help And Support As Needed
There are plenty of good nutritionists and dieticians to help you and your child. However, it is best that you attend and participatein all the meetings with as there is a high probability that children might get demoralized with regular visits to doctors and dieticians. Make sure to get a set weight loss plan with the correct amount of calories and the foods as is appropriate for your child. They are still growing and so require a certain amount of nutrition. It is imperative that they lose weight the right way.
Know Your Child
Sometimes a weight gain may have a physical or psychological aspect. Do some investigation, and consult with a physician as soon as possible.
If your child is going experiencing something, he/she may be diverting the energy and emotions into food. If that is the case, then address the problem at its root. Once the issue is resolved, your child will go back to his/her normal lifestyle and shed the weight he gained. If the problem still persists, consult a child psychologist.
The worst thing to do is be accusatory and blame them for weight gain. Statements, like “I told you to stop eating all that ice cream” will not help anybody. And, these types of statements can do more harm than good because they can add to an already fragile and damaged self-esteem
Deal With Teasing Issues : You can safely assume that if your child is obese or overweight they have been teased at school. Kids can be very cruel and thoughtless and teasing hurts, especially kids who do not have the coping mechanisms to deal with such pain and attention.
It’s important that your child know that they can talk to you, and tell you what’s going on. And, the effects of teasing must be dealt with. Often, kids are overweight and get teased begin to use food as a coping mechanism, which only propagates obesity. If you feel it necessary, seek professional advice and assistance in this regard.
Never be too direct as it may make your child run away from the problem and cause more eating problems. Ask pertinent questions about your child’s lifestyle. Children, especially teenagers like making their own decisions. So instead of dictating sermons, let them understand what the problem is. With careful guidance, you can help them arrive at conclusions and decide the next course of action.
Include The Whole Family
Singling out a child in the family is not the answer. You are a family and a family runs and works as a unit and so the entire family must get involved in the fitness and weight loss plan. Plus, a healthy lifestyle is beneficial to all.
So instead of saying you need to exercise more, start by taking up a hobby like dancing which requires a physical effort and get your child involved. Get the whole family outside to run, play and be active. This will provide you with more family time as well and allow you to bond with your child while helping him or her lose weight.
Meals should be the same for everyone.
If, traditionally there are unhealthy foods in the home they should all be removed. Meals should be prepared with health in mind and all snacks should be healthy, really for everyone’s sake, not just the child that needs to lose weight.
Be Age Appropriate
While younger children will listen to your commands, there is no need to bring them up to speed about their body all the time.
Let them have fun and under your supervision lose their weight. Teenagers like honesty so approach the issue upfront, but do not be accusatory or demanding. Instead be a friend to them and make decisions together. Join them in this effort and see the difference.
Set Short Term Goals
Children lose motivation and willpower easily. Since with children, rigid diets and hard core exercise routines is not the option, the positive results gleamed will be gradual. They need to be healthy first and then weight loss will happen on its own accord. Therefore, be innovative and realistic when setting goals.
Consistent Meal Times
Ensure that your child eats his/her breakfast and finishes her lunch or snack that you have packed. Skip the junk foods and take some time out to cook. Make eating out a treat reserved for once a month. This schedule applies for everybody. Once your child sees the level of dedication that everyone is putting in on his/her behalf, he/she will start putting in effort into shedding the extra weight.
Make Small Changes
Start with small changes and slowly move up the ladder. Children respond to this better.You act as the messenger, seek their help and make the action happen.
With these steps, in a very short while your child will be back on track with a normal BMI and will be leading a happy and satisfied life.
What Schools Can Do To Help Reduce The Child Obesity Problem
The conveniences offered by technological advancements have made the average lifestyle of kids less active than in previous decades where they would spend the majority of their free time playing outside. Today they sit at a computer or play video games and are mostly sedentary. Coupled with diet high in sugar and calories, the rate of obesity has grown tremendously to the point of epidemic with 31.8% of all kids in the US being overweight or obese and 16.9% diagnose with actual obesity.
This means that 1/3 of the kids in the USA are overweight or obese!
And, the news gets worse since 25% of 2 to 5 year olds are obese as well. These numbers are really staggering especially since this medical condition is completely preventable.
Schools play a vital part in the development process of a child’s life. After all, that is the purpose of schooling, providing kids with tools to become well-rounded individuals. After home, school is the place where kids spend most of their time. Thereby, it is essential that schools play their part in the fight against childhood obesity.
The problem is that many schools do not provide healthy snacks, lunches, and in fact some actually propagate a diet of junk food. Some schools have vending machines filled with candy and chips. Snack bars are available during lunch and recess that offer ice cream, and some even have soda machines available to this day, never mind the fact that just on 12oz can of soda provides three times the recommended daily sugar intake for kids.
It is of prime importance that the future generation receives all the help possible to make them choose the right path. Being overweight is not only a problem in terms of physical appearance but, it negatively affects a child’s health by putting them at risk for various health problems, and also causes a variety of emotional and psychological problems as well. There are many things that schools can do to help theirpupils improve their health and develop into mentally and physically fit adult individuals.
Helping Kids Make Better Food Choices
It is important that kids know about the potential negatives and positives of what they are eating. A good health education programmme is a necessity, which provides kids with facts regarding how their food choices affect their health. However, teaching alone will not be sufficient. Kids need to learn how they can use that information to choose healthier food.
Providing Healthy Lunches And Snacks
Along with providing the proper education, schools also need to provide healthier options for lunch. Some vegetables and fruits, lean proteins and whole-grain products will ensure that kids get optimum nutrition.
A salad bar is great way to arouse curiosity, and it has be shown to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables because it puts the control into the kid’s hands. The service staff should also be informed about healthy food preparation and choices.
Schools also need to stop offering any food items that contain an extremely high amount of added sugars e.g. such as chocolates, carbonated beverages and cookies. Vending machines are quite a conundrum. They get revenue for schools, but, rarely do they offer “food” that is nutritious. It is important to decide what is more important, profits or the health of our future generation.
There are several states that have started healthy lunch programs for kids and it makes sense that this should be commonplace across the whole country, and the world for that matter.
Encouraging Physical Activity
Kids need at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activities every day. Schools can help kids to achieve this by providing daily physical education classes to all grades. It is also important that the teaching staff is knowledgeable and supportive.
Those who are not used to even walking for 30 minutes will definitely need a controlled and supervised introduction to exercising.
Otherwise, they can get injured and develop negative emotions that can hinder their progress. Extra support and an encouraging attitude is essential for helping kids who are overweight. They might have several emotional and psychological issues that might hold them back. Harshness can make the physical education class a nightmare for them.
Another point to bear in mind is that instead of focusing on weight loss for kids, the emphasis should be on ingraining habits that will become a part of their lifestyle. Short-term goals should not be the focus of health and physical education.
Schools Working With Parents
Obesity is a 100% preventable condition, with the exception of those rare cases where it is caused by certain medications or medical conditions.
Parents, along with schools need to make every effort possible to ensure that children receive the proper guidance, diet and daily physical activity.
Young children do not know any better, and, if they have it their way, they will eat fries, soda and chocolate all day, every day.
As adults we must take every possible step to ensure that our children have a healthy future, and can grow into healthy adults without the plague of poor eating and poor fitness habits that can ruin their lives.
Now watch this short video to see how a wacky cafeteria manageress and a no-nonsense physical education (PE) teacher join together to transform John M. Sexton Elementary School into a healthy place to learn, work, and play as well as eat !
Sexton’s Green Bean Queen
With support from the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Programme, they overhaul the school lunch menu, convince kids to try new fresh fruits and vegetables, and integrate exercise and physical activity throughout.
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