Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects several children and adolescents in Grenada. Overweight is defined as having excess body weight for a particular height. Obesity is defined as having excess body fat.
Unhealthy eating habits, too little physical activity and consuming too many empty calories are major contributors to childhood obesity.
Genetic and hormonal factors also play a role. Regularly eating high-calorie foods, such as fast foods, baked goods, soda, candy and desserts can easily cause your child to gain weight. Which is why regular exercise is extremely important.
Children who don’t get sufficient exercise (at least 60 minutes a day) are more likely to gain weight as they don’t burn much calories.
Limit your child’s screen time to no more than 2 hours a day. They don’t need to spend all afternoon watching TV or sitting in front the computer playing video games or surfing the internet.
Growing children in environments where high-calorie foods are always available and physical activity is not encouraged puts child health on the back burner.
But there’s so much you could do by getting proactive.
Your child’s consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Does your child really need to drink a soda every day?
*Make plain or lemon flavoured water the regular drink in and out of the home
*Provide plenty of fruits and vegetables
*Eat meals together as a family as often as possible
*Limit eating out, especially at fast food restaurants
*Adjust portion sizes appropriately for age
*Limit TV, screen and internet time to less than 2 hours a day
Children who are overweight or obese may face several health problems like diabetes, high-blood pressure or high cholesterol.
Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term health effects.
Obese youth are more likely to have risk factors for heart disease, pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, stroke and several types of cancer.
Asthma, sleep disorders, early puberty and menstruation can also be risks factors.
Overweight children may also suffer from bone and joint problems, stigmatisation and poor self-esteem.
If you are starting to worry that your child is putting on too much weight, talk to his or her doctor. Be sure to keep all doctor and clinic appointments and stay up to date with vaccines for babies and toddlers.
Don’t wait until sickness strikes to have your child visit the doctor. It is recommended to have medical check-ups at least 2 per year.
This year’s child month falls under the theme: “Love the child – Sexual abuse is real, protect me now.”
(The above reflects the views of the Grenada Food & Nutrition Council)