The continued spread of the childhood obesity epidemic means more parents than ever are raising children who are struggling with their weight, and those children are more likely than not to take their weight problems with them into adulthood.
If you are the parent of an obese child, below are five things to consider doing.
- Get an evaluation from your pediatrician. If you suspect your child is overweight or obese, consult your child’s doctor for a medical evaluation. For one thing, it is quite common for parents to misjudge their child’s weight. Your pediatrician will assess how your child’s situation compares to other children of the same age and gender using a growth chart. Your pediatrician is also able to investigate whether an underlying medical condition is causing your child’s weight gain and can offer professional advice on a full range of weight control issues.
- Strike a balance with your child. Your child is not going to overcome his or her weight problem without your help. Children need guidance from parents to deal with peer and social pressures, and to make better decisions about eating and making healthier use of their free time. Parental involvement is critical to helping an obese child with weight control issues. Be open and willing to talk openly and listen attentively about your child’s weight problem. At the same time, strike a balance and avoid being overly controlling, especially when it relates to food. Don’t use food as a reward or a way to provide comfort, and avoid being overbearing in monitoring how much your child eats or in pushing your child to eat if he or she isn’t hungry.
- Limits on screen time. Research has established a link between the amount of a child’s screen time (i.e. time spent watching television, and using mobile phones and computers) and the child’s risk for a number of weight-related health problems including type-2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and reduced fitness levels. Consider setting a daily screen time limit of 60 minutes for your child.
- Prioritize time for physical activity. There is a strong connection in children between lack of physical activity and obesity. Children should spend an hour in total every day doing moderate to vigorous-intensity activity and exercise. Parents can help their obese child by making it possible for their child to participate in their favorite sports and active hobbies, and consider shifting chore assignments to enable the child to take on tasks that also include physical activity (e.g. dog walking).
- Make breakfast a daily habit not to be skipped. An extensive body of obesity-related research shows without a doubt that skipping breakfast is a significant risk factor for obesity in children, adolescents, and teenagers. Simply put, eating a healthy breakfast every morning is critical to a child’s healthy weight. But health isn’t the only area to enjoy the benefits of breakfast; studies show that children who eat breakfast perform better at school and learn more thanks to higher levels of energy and better concentration. One reminder: A child’s breakfast should not include coffee or energy drinks.
The Children’s Center at Bumrungrad
For parents, the Children’s Center at Bumrungrad International Hospital offers comprehensive health services by pediatricians and pediatric specialists in a variety of fields, including overweight and obesity issues. The Children’s Center also provides physical check-ups, vaccinations, and treatment for specific pediatric symptoms. The Special Needs Children Development Center supports age-appropriate development and learning to fulfill each child’s full potential.
The center offers a children’s Obesity Package that includes a variety of diagnostic tests and procedures to make sure your child is within the healthy weight range for his or her age and size. The package is valid through December 31, 2018.
For details on the Obesity Package, click here, For other information, or to schedule an appointment, contact the Children’s Center by calling +66 (0) 2011 3791, send us your inquiry, or request an appointment online.
Editor’s Note: This article has been reprinted here with permission of Bumrungrad International Hospital.