Childhood obesity is a growing health problem
that has reached epidemic proportions in many parts of the world, especially in
countries like the US, India and China and other nations in the world.
Preventing obesity in children
is a pressing concern
and parents need to be better informed, so as to make more knowledgeable
choices and decisions for their children.
Childhood obesity puts you at risk of
developing diabetes, heart disease and asthma. It also increases the risk of
medical complications while undergoing treatment for otherwise mundane health
conditions. Emotional and psychological wellbeing of the child is at risk too,
obesity puts a dent into the child's self confidence and self-esteem. It
condemns a child to a future with a warped or negative body image and problems
like depression. Eating disorders like anorexia and
also often develop as a result of childhood obesity.
The Root of the Problem
The risks of
are higher in households where processed foods form
the bulk of the diet, with very little fresh fruit and vegetables. It is the
combination of excessive calorie intake from unhealthy food sources and a lack
of physical activity, as most kids are allowed to watch TV or play video games
instead of being encouraged to play outdoors. Unhealthy food choices have grown
manifold in recent decades, as societies have become increasingly
industrialized and people eat more high-calorie fast food and junk food that is
now cheaper than fresh food. With fast-paced lifestyles in cities, families often
have less time to cook and consume more ready-to-cook and outdoor meals. The
intake of sugar has risen drastically, with sweet drinks, desserts, candy,
biscuits and other products that contain unhealthy amounts of sugar.
Apple Consumption, Childhood
Diets and Obesity
Eating fresh fruits and fruit products
doesn't just provide you with healthy nutrition. It also improves and
inculcates healthier eating habits in children
. To find out just how significant an impact fruit intake
can have on childhood health and obesity, researchers decided to study the
association between apple consumption, and the general quality of diets and
obesity in children. Apples were considered because they are the second most
widely consumed fruit in the United States, where the research took place.
In this particular study, researchers studied
the patterns of apple consumption in children aged 2 to 18 years and they
observed these patterns against the general quality of diet and
weight/adiposity in the test group. The researchers wanted to find out if the
regular intake of fruits and fruit-based products like apples has any
significant bearings on general quality of diet and
The results of their study confirmed what
nutritionists and many doctors have been suggesting.
The consumption of apples in any form does
seem to contribute to the fruit intake requirements in children and should be
encouraged at all costs. Healthy Eating Index or HEI scores were used to
measure diet quality and it was clearly established that children who consumed
apple products and whole apples had higher HEI scores as compared to others,
with those consuming whole apples having the best scores. Likewise, the group
consuming apples also showed healthier scores when calculating Body Mass Index or BMI
The role of parents is critical as primary
care givers, as they as they have the greatest influence on a child's eating
habits and food choices. While you don't need to put your child on an apple diet to lose weight
, it should also be kept in mind that healthy eating habits
are best cultivated at an early age.
Common Sense Approaches to
Maintaining healthy body weight is important
right from childhood. It is important to strike a balance with a child's diet,
providing adequate nutrition for growth and development without being
excessively high in calories. At the same time, adequate physical activity is
essential to maintain that balance.
Here are Some
Simple Tips to Prevent Obesity in Children:
- Inculcate healthy eating habits
- Include plenty of fresh fruits,
veggies and whole grains in regular meals
- Include low fat milk and dairy
- Meats are part of a balanced meal
but should be consumed in moderation and should ideally include low fat
meats, poultry and fish. Vegetarians should consume more beans, pulses,
sprouts and soya or tofu for protein.
- Serve smaller meals, with more
frequent fruit snacks between meals
- Increase hydration with greater
water intake while avoiding processed drinks, colas and sweetened juices.
- Limit the intake of fried, oily and
other junk foods
- Make healthy food substitutions. For
example, encourage homemade smoothies and homemade sorbets instead of ice
creams and other deserts; serve a fish steak instead of a beef steak;
instead of a sandwich with chocolate flavored peanut butter, offer your child
a bowl of cereal.
- Encourage your child to be
physically active. Outdoor sports and athletic activities help to
stimulate physical growth and studies also show that children who spend
more time outdoors are less prone to depression and psychological problems
as compared to kids who spend most of their time indoors watching TV and
playing video games.
- Start to inculcate healthy eating
habits in your child by taking the first step yourself. Correct your
unhealthy eating habits and set an example as kids are quick learners and
are skilled at rationalizing and justifying unhealthy habits that appeal
O'Neil CE, Nicklas TA, Fulgoni VL 3rd.
Consumption of apples is associatedwith a better diet quality and reduced risk
of obesity in children: NationalHealth and Nutrition Examination Survey
(NHANES) 2003-2010. Nutr J. 2015 May14;14:48. doi: 10.1186/s12937-015-0040-1.
PubMed PMID: 25971247; PubMed CentralPMCID: PMC4443546.