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Children Have Obesity? Here's how to deal with it

Obesity is also called overweight. Children who are obese sometimes make the people who see it irritate. This often makes parents feel that they do not need to see a doctor, even though obesity is also one form of malnutrition in addition to malnutrition.

Childhood obesity increases in number at this time. In developed countries, even more, children are obese. Obesity in childhood has the potential to cause airway obstruction during sleep, also called obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), characterized by snoring sleep. Other problems that are often encountered in children with obesity are disorders of body posture and bone development, skin disorders, psychosocial problems, or allergies. Obesity in childhood is also associated with obesity as adults, which has the potential to cause various diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Then, what if our child is already obese?

Handling obesity depends on age, child development, and severity. Given that children are still growing and developing, the principle of diet regulation in obese children is a diet with balanced nutrition according to children's needs. In contrast to adults, the target of weight loss in obese children is very minimal, which is only 0.5-2 kg per month, or simply maintained so as not to increase, because the growth process is still ongoing.

Pediatricians will evaluate the causes of obesity, children's nutritional status, food intake and children's activities, and the presence or absence of diseases caused by obesity. Therapy (program) to overcome obesity can be started when the child (and parents) are ready to start. The principle of handling obesity in children, in general, is regulating food intake and increasing physical activity of children.




Regulate Child Feed Intake Obesity

Consult your pediatrician or nutritionist to determine your dietary intake according to your child's ideal body weight, which will be judged on your height. Teach children to recognize hunger and feeling full. Children should be able to distinguish between hunger in the mouth (only want) and hunger in the stomach (indeed hungry), and advise them to only eat if they feel hungry in the stomach. After that, children must also learn to recognize feeling full, so they can stop eating even if they still want to. Father and Mother can play roles with children with themes that involve stomach sounds when hungry, as well as discomfort and flatulence when overeating.

In addition to teaching children to recognize hunger and feeling full, limiting calorie intake can be done by reducing fat and carbohydrate intake, and increasing fiber and water intake. WHO recommends a minimum of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, accompanied by enough drinking water (a flavorless drink/sugar). Here are some tips that Father and Mother can apply to limit food intake in obese children:

  • Eat regularly three times per day with a snack of cut fruit (not juice) 1-2 times per day. Cut fruit such as watermelon, melon, apple, or pear are useful for replacing sweet snacks (such as ice cream, chocolate, and sweets). Avoid high-calorie fruits like mangoes.
  • Children are only allowed to drink water between meals.
  • Limit the amount of high-calorie foods, such as french fries, bread, pastries, ice cream, or fruit juice.
  • Do not eat while playing or watching television This habit will associate feelings of pleasure that accompany when watching television programs or playing, with eating. So, if one day the child feels sad or stressed, he will entertain himself by eating.
  • Avoid giving food as a gift, or limiting food as a punishment.
  • Avoid giving fast food or sweet foods.
  • Limit milk intake to only 500 ml/day for children over 2 years old, and replace full cream milk with skim milk (low fat).
  • Get used to breakfast. Research shows breakfast with high protein levels can help reduce weight.

Increase Physical Activity in Children with Obesity

To be able to increase children's activities, try starting from simple things, such as walking or cycling when going to school. Or if the school distance is too far away, Mother Father can lower the child to the safe level and let the child walk on foot. In smaller children, reducing carrying and using the stroller is also very useful. Obese children can also be involved in daily chores.

Motivate obese children to do physical activity for one hour every day. School-age children (starting at age 6) can be introduced to sports such as cycling, swimming, dancing, karate, gymnastics, soccer or basketball. And usually, starting at the age of 10, children will prefer sports in groups.

Reduce activities carried out by sitting or lying down. But that does not mean reducing sleep time, because enough sleep actually protects from obesity. The sitting or lying activity referred to here is watching television and activities with gadgets, because these activities are often carried out for hours every day. Therefore, limit the number of screen times (watching TV or playing gadgets) for 2 hours a day for children over 2 years and to a minimum for children under 2 years.

Parents are encouraged to give encouragement and praise for the slightest success or change in behavior shown by the child. For example, when a child wants to eat a new menu that is in accordance with the nutrition program of the doctor, when he wants to exercise, or when his weight is successfully dropped. Support of family and people around them is the most important thing in overcoming obesity in children, especially to change the diet and lifestyle of everyday children.





References

References

1. O'Connor, et al. (2017). Screening for Obesity and Intervention for Weight Management in Children and Adolescents: Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force.

2. Barlow SE and the Expert Committee. (2007). Expert committee Recommendations Regarding the Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity: Summary Report. Pediatrics.

3. Spear, et al. (2007). Recommendations for Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and obesity.


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