Background: Childhood Obesity continues to affect the kids and teenagers globally, which accounts for chronic illness later in life, such as Diabetes Mellitus, kidney disease, heart disease, body image disturbance, depression, cancer. (Al-khalidi, 2019, para.4).
This trend of overweight was seen way back in 2004 by “Tremblay and Willms after analyzing body mass index trend of children (aged 7 to 13) from 1981 to 1996” (Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, 2006, p. 6) (1). “It showed prevalence overweight among boys from 15% in 1981 to 35.4% in 1996 and among girls from 15% to 29.
2%” also this was reported in the year 2002, and 2003 respectively”. (Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, 2006, para. 6).
“Study conducted by Canadian community health survey nutrition shows that about 59% of children and adolescent consumes less than 5 times a day fruits and vegetables in the food”. (Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, 2006, para. 7). “According to results from the 2004 Canada Community Health Survey, children and teens get one-fifth of their daily calories from beverages”. (Al-khalidi, 2019, para. 21).
This Millennial age where computers and video games are seen as a major fun thing to do, the majority of the children prefer to get caught up with their video games rather than going out to play, ride their bikes, or enjoy outdoor physical activities, this has increased sedentary lifestyle and decrease their activity level.
(Al-khalidi, 2019, para.24).
Family eating habit plays a major role in the diet of a child. In a family where the bulk of the diet is carbs and sweetened beverages, this will make the child consume more of that type of food and will be difficult for the child to accept or adapt to a change in their diet.
(Al-khalidi, 2019, para.19).
In this era of 3D, YouTubers, Facebook, Instagram and to mention but a few, a child can be on one of those platforms, and an advert pops up for e.g a fast food ad before the child can actually watch the cartoon or even learn a craft on YouTube. Big chain industries use this avenue to lure children and teenagers in the consumption of fast food and unhealthy meals by adding varieties of incentives like toys or Disney trips etc to their purchased goods. They also make use of bright colours, cartoon characters or eye-catching images or phrases gain the attention of children this is called “neuromarketing”. (Berkeley media studies group, 2011, para.6).
· Health care providers should bear in mind that while they educate the child, parents and/or caregivers on the importance of Physical activities and balanced nutrition, it should be tailored towards the educational status of both child and parents, age, development levels, BMI, weight percentile. (Durbin et al., 2018, para 15)
· The Government should subsidize healthy foods, especially farm produces and put more taxes on unhealthy foods such as sweetened drink and fast food which will enable and motivate the increase in consumption of the healthier foods and invest the revenues to address vulnerable populations: immigrants, low-income earners etc. (Center for science in public interest [CSPI], n.d, para. 14)
Incorporating physical activities to at least 60 min daily of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
Recent studies have shown “the effects of exercise-based interventions alone (without hypocaloric diet intervention) and the health outcomes (anthropometry, body composition and cardio-metabolic, hepatic, vascular, and cardiorespiratory fitness parameters) in overweight and obese children and adolescents”. (Garcia-Hermoso et al., 2019, para2).
Exercise should be based on each child’s developmental level, and it should involve fun exercise because Children get easily bored. (Durbin et al., 2018,)
There should be an Increase in-trained Health care workers who specialize in child nutrition, as they will, in turn, educate parents/guardians both in the community, and the health care system on the importance of the proper meal plan, adequate vegetables and fruits into their family menu, in order to foster a positive lifestyle change. (Durbin et al., 2018, para 15).
Parents/guardians should incorporate “more vegetables and fruits in the family menu, at least five times per week” (Chronic Disease Prevention Alliance of Canada, 2006, para. 7). It should be introduced in a fun way involving shapes like heart, smileys. This method could also be used to teach them colours and shapes at a young age in order to keep their interest high while involving them when making their food.
It is hard for kids to adapt to new food like vegetables, especially when the child was not used to it, hence this may result in the child refusal of food and may be detrimental to the health of the child.
Enforcing Policy and implementation of media strategies, food tax on the food industry and reformulation of food content.
There are government policies already put in place which limits the adverts of unhealthy food to children, however, some big chain food industries do not adhere to these policies. In Quebec, where there has been an actual ban, studies conducted showed “French-speaking households with children are significantly less likely to purchase fast food if they live in Quebec than if they live in Ontario”. (Dhar, & Baylis, 2011, para 4).
This will give the consumer a better edge because they have the knowledge by reading the labels before they consume it, also food reformulation is mostly pioneered by the government. (Kaldor, 2018, para.1).
If there is an increase in demand in the market, then producers will want to implement changes as seen in various trends such as a Gluten-free diet, Paleo or Keto diet. Should that be the case, before there is a reformulation is achieved?
It is however important that parents/caregivers incorporate healthy eating and lifestyle which includes physical exercises into the family lifestyle to encourage the children. It is also very important that adequately trained health care provider’s sees to it that the right information is given to guide them throughout the journey.