Official data assure that more than 40% of schoolchildren show signs of overweight, which makes childhood obesity a public health problem of alarming dyes. What can we do about this situation? Should a child be put on a diet? How to act before the first signs of childhood obesity?
First of all, "dieting" is a misused term, as it doesn't really have connotations that are traditionally assumed. It does not mean reducing the intake of food to lose weight or to reach a certain body weight, but rather that the diet is the set of foods that are consumed as well as their amounts, so the ideal would be to recommend "re-educating the diet."
Although it would be advisable for the whole process to be supervised by a dietitian-nutritionist, who would carry out individual studies of our son's case, the most common, unfortunately, is that a low or no physical activity is added to an unbalanced diet with excess saturated fat and trans, from precooked and industrial pastries, and with portions well above what is recommended for the child's age.
The steps to follow when dealing with an overweight child are the following:
- Promote a Increased physical activity to increase the body's energy consumption. In addition, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle and encouraging the child to play outdoors is beneficial for their overall health.
- Modify the menus that we offer to the child. Avoid foods rich in sugars, such as industrial juices, cookies or pastries, replacing them with fruit, bread or traditional sandwiches. Also avoid incorporating extra fat into the food, avoiding fried foods and batters and promoting the intake of raw vegetables that provide a feeling of satiety. This is known as dietary re-education and it basically consists of eliminating foods with higher caloric density and lower nutritional density from the diet, so that the micronutrients are provided by foods with low calorie content.
- Slightly and progressively reduce the portions. Although it breaks our hearts to think that our child is left hungry, it is very likely that it is not the case. Our son is not capable of detecting and acting on the satiety signals that his body sends him, and he must learn to do so.
Being overweight is the first step on the road to obesity, so remedying as soon as possible is key to prevent it and prevent our little one from being an obese adult in the future. Obviously, it does not have the same connotation or the same effect to demand that a mother limit what her child eats than to try to get both of them to adopt healthy and age-appropriate nutritional habits, although ideally they have the same purpose, to control body weight.
In addition, consciously losing weight, that is, understanding the modification and reeducation of eating habits, has been shown to be more permanent than doing so by restricting the amounts of food.
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