Fast food. Desserts. Bubble Tea. Grab Rides. – Things that we love as Singaporeans.
These are privileges and common items that we now can have easily at our fingertips. Our walks to the store turn into five-minute car rides, fast food becomes more accessible than healthier options, and nearly everything we need to do can be done sitting down.
Society has changed in so many ways that it made our lives easier. With this, everyday movements are turning obsolete and we are facing a new issue more serious than ever – Childhood obesity.
Obesity is a condition where a person has excessive fat negatively affecting their health.
In 2017, based on the National Population Health Survey, childhood obesity in Singapore has increased from 11% to 13% in just four years. Although the numbers may not seem alarming, its steady increase should be a cause for concern.
If you don’t take action now while your child is young, this problem will worsen as they age. Children who are obese have a higher tendency to become obese adults. As children have low self-control over their appetite, it is up to us, parents, to step in and help them manage their hunger.
Here is a summary of all the health problems related to obesity.
How Do I Know If My Child Is Obese?
It’s not easy to gauge a child’s physical condition based on their physical appearance alone.
Children grow at various speeds. Some experience growth spurts, while others may take time to add some numbers. You also have to take into account their age and gender.
Obesity comes in different levels for varying age groups and genders. Given all of these factors, it’s best to look for reliable ways of checking weight status.
Fortunately, there are methods used to determine whether or not a child is obese. One of which is the Body Mass Index (BMI) Calculator, which takes into account the height, weight, age, and gender of the child.
How Do I Help My Child Lose Weight To Combat Childhood Obesity?
We are our kids’ first role models. What they see, they do because it first came from us. If you eat right and be physically active, they’ll follow. It’s also easier to achieve your goals if you aren’t doing it alone.
Ultimately, our choices affect our children’s lives. From how often your family eats out to how lenient you are with screen time at home, these factors bear a lot of weight on their life.
With simple changes at home, such as swapping ingredients for healthier ones and going out more for walks and bike rides, you’re already making significant changes in their health.
What’s a better way to grow than to grow with and as a family, right?
1. Make healthier eating choices
While this is the most effective strategy, it is also the hardest. People tend to be sudden with their diet changes, as in quickly cutting off certain foods. However, this only lasts just as fast because they would give up too soon. To combat drastic changes, try making small additions first.
Us, parents, have the most control over what our children eat. From breakfast to dinner and everything in between, we are responsible. Given that, we also have the freedom to pick healthier ingredients for their meals and lead with a healthier lifestyle!
Try out the following steps to effectively achieve this:
- Prioritise breakfast
- Add fruits and vegetables to meals
- Limit sugary snacks
- Don’t eat out too much
- Watch portion sizes in meals and snacks
- Put more healthy fats to your diet such as peanut butter, walnuts, tofu, salmon, and avocados
2. Fix their sleeping schedule
Sleep deprivation is linked to obesity. People who sleep less are too tired to perform activities such as exercising. They also eat more calories than those who sleep more as they have more opportunities to eat.
A study has shown that we eat more when we’re sleepy. We take sleepiness or fatigue as signs of hunger. When we pull all-nighters, our bodies are tired but not enough to shut down. Thus, we take that time to stuff our faces with more food.
More importantly, sleep plays an important role in our body’s metabolism. Those who lack sleep experience changes in their hormones that will impair their body weight and overall health. This also adds to the physiologic abnormalities that add to their calorie intake and appetite.
In line with that, the key hormones responsible for appetite get disrupted, making sleep-deprived people hungrier.
Here are some tips to encourage enough sleep:
- Make their bed and room comfortable
- Turn the lights off in their room
- Set up a routine, like brushing teeth and taking a shower before bed
- Remove distractions such as TV, phones, and the like
- Limit naps during the day
- Help them exercise in the morning or afternoon
3. Get physical
Exercise doesn’t have to be high-intensity workouts. You can get your daily dose of exercise by doing activities together.
Here are some ideas!
- Designate chores in the house
- Encourage after school sports or activities
- Try out physical video games, like Kinect and Wii
- Ride a bike around the park or neighbourhood with the family
- If possible, walk to and from school
- Participate in fun runs
With today’s technology, simple tasks can be accomplished with little to no movement. But if you shift your perspective, you’ll find that exercise is actually everywhere. From sweeping the floor every day to hitting the gym, your family can achieve a healthier lifestyle!
In A Nutshell…
Childhood obesity shouldn’t be taken lightly. Although society has progressed in a way that enables significant weight gain, we can still do something about it, as a family!
The little details in our lifestyle play major roles in our overall health. That bubble tea you bought for the cinema, the hours you spend on your phone, and the extra cheese you put on your burger, they’re all part of the problem.
Given that the Singapore childhood obesity rate increases every year, it’s time to take action before it’s too late for our kids.
Have you tried out these weight maintenance tips in your home? Share your experience with us in the comments!