Helping Parents and Caregivers in the Fight Against Childhood Obesity Young children acquire their knowledge through direct instruction, modeling, and experiences within their environment (Lanigan, 2010, p. # 369). Children who are obese are known to have lower self-esteem, and a higher risk of becoming drinkers, smokers, and/or socially isolated as they mature. Health concerns such as Cardiovascular Disease; Gall Bladder problems; Hypertension; and Sleep Apnea have all been associated with childhood obesity (Robinson; Geier; Rizzolo; Sedrak, 2011). Teaching portion control, implementing a healthy balanced diet, and adding in daily physical activities can help parents and caregivers in the fight against childhood obesity. Portion control is something that has to be developed from within a person. By introducing and practicing the use of healthy eating habits early in life, parents and caregivers are increasing the opportunities for a child to learn behaviors that can help them to develop a healthy life style.
This type of life style can in turn increase the child’s chances of reversing or even preventing obesity. Teaching children to recognize what it feels like in their bodies when they are hungry or what could be called their hunger signals, while encouraging them to eat their food more slowly, and persuading them to stop eating when they feel they have had enough, even though they may still have food left over, are all ways of promoting healthy eating habits in children. The practice and observation of these skills will benefit children in their journey to a healthy life. Creating a healthy balanced diet can be a challenge for families. The convenience of the fast food industry has increased the challenge for families. Most families have parents or caregivers who work long hours and have little down time, causing them to “grab” dinner verses preparing it as was once the norm.
In a balanced diet, the recommendation of carbohydrates is 45% to 50% of the total daily calories, while fat intake is at 30% to 35% (Philippas; Lo, 2005). Focusing on the right fats and carbs are of extreme importance. Making choices with fruits, vegetables, legumes, and healthier poly- and monounsaturated fats, verses saturated fats and refined carbohydrates like white bread, refined sugar, soft drinks, cakes and candies, can dramatically assist in the battle against childhood obesity. While portion control and a healthy balanced diet are essential in the fight against childhood obesity, the benefits of physical activity should not be ignored. Exercise is a key component in the treatment and prevention of obesity in children (Robinson; Geier; Rizzolo; Sedrak, 2011).
Exercise will assist in weight loss as well as improve metabolic risk factors such as hypertension, and has been known to have led to the lowering of blood pressure, along with reducing in depression, anxiety, and improvement of self-esteem (Robinson; Geier; Rizzolo; Sedrak, 2011). The obesity epidemic is being blamed for the rise in serious diseases and disorders (Robinson; Geier; Rizzolo; Sedrak, 2011). With this information of the multiple health concerns that have been associated with childhood obesity, parents and caregivers must be armed with education and resources to fight against this disease. Teaching portion control, implementing a healthy balanced diet, and adding in daily physical activities can help parents and caregivers in the fight against the disease known as childhood obesity.