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Why balanced diet is the key to fight obesity

Obesity is one major reason why some children have become diabetic or even have high blood pressure. Mrs Victoria Ahuoiza Ajako, Assistant Chief Dietician at…

Obesity is one major reason why some children have become diabetic or even have high blood pressure. Mrs Victoria Ahuoiza Ajako, Assistant Chief Dietician at the National Hospital, Abuja says “Obesity is the accumulation of excess fat in the body. When the energy intake is greater than the energy expenditure there will be accumulation of excesses and that accumulation is stored in the body, thereby causing obesity.” Obesity most commonly begins in childhood between the ages of five and six, and during adolescence.  Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 per cent chance of becoming an obese adult.  

This is largely caused by the eating habit of the home, says Mrs Ajako.  “The eating pattern in a home affects the child. For instance, if a child grows up in the home where they eat uncontrollably, the child will become obese, especially when they eat more of refined, sugary foods, unhealthy fat . This even becomes worse when they don’t exercise but sit and watch TV or play computer games.”

On the way to get out of this quagmire, Mrs Ajako advised that mothers or caregivers should be able to combine all the classes of food to provide an adequate meal for the child. “Children should take fruits to school rather than biscuits. Women should desist from giving their children snacks to school daily.  Parents should make proper meals for their children. That is the only way obesity can be avoided in children. For instance, protein is good for body building, carbohydrate provides the body with energy, vitamins and minerals helps with the absorption of major nutrients. So, all the macro and minor nutrients are essential to help the child get balanced diets.”

Other ways parents can manage obesity in their children is by doing the following:

•    change eating habits (eat slowly, develop a routine

•    plan meals and make better food selections (eat less fatty foods, avoid junk and fast foods)

•    control portions and consume less calories

•    increase physical activity (especially walking) and have a more active lifestyle

•    know what your child eats at school

•    eat meals as a family instead of eating while watching television or at the computer

•    do not use food as a reward

•    limit snacking

An obese adolescent must therefore learn to eat and enjoy healthy foods in moderation and to exercise regularly to maintain the desired weight.  Parents of an obese child can improve their child’s self esteem by emphasizing the child’s strengths and positive qualities rather than just focusing on their weight problem. 

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