Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents in the UAE. Obese children are above the normal weight for their age and height.
Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often start children on the path to health problems that were once considered adult problems — diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
In 2016 alone, more than 1.9 billion adults (18 years old and above) were overweight. Over 650 million out of this figure were obese. What’s more, it was estimated that 41 million children under the age of five were overweight and obese in 2016.
Meanwhile, over 340 million children and adolescents aged five to 19 were overweight in 2016. Here in the UAE alone, obesity levels are as alarmingly high as 37 percent of the population. That is double the world average!
Many obese children become obese adults, especially if one or both parents are obese. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression.
One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the eating and exercise habits of your entire family. Treating and preventing childhood obesity helps protect your child’s health now and in the future.
Here are some tips which can help you fight against the on-going battle.
- Children learn by example, so be sure to set a good one by eating healthily and exercising regularly. Adopt healthy habits as a family, for example, by serving reasonably sized portions at meal times, and concentrating on vegetables, fruit, wholegrains and lean meats.
- Find creative ways to make children’s favorite dishes healthier by adjusting the ingredients, and also look for recipes to make healthy foods more appealing.
- Do not store snacks or sweets in easily accessible areas, and do not use them as treats; instead replace them with non-food treats such as an outing to their favorite place.
- Encourage your child to do at least 60 minutes of moderate physical activity such as walking, soccer, or playing tag, on most days or everyday.
- Make full use of the physical activity programmes offered at your child’s school, and attend sporting events to support your children.
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