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Who doesn’t love a chubby baby? Those cheeks you love to pinch, the pudgy little thighs, the round little face that giggles and laughs – babies are so much fun, and their only job in life is to eat, sleep, and make as many dirty diapers as they can!
But sadly, too many chubby babies are becoming chubby kids, and in some cases, more than chubby, downright obese. And nobody should find that cute at all.
There are a lot of things you can do to help your child be happy, healthy, and at a normal weight.
Don’t Hide From It – Your Child Is Overweight
It is tempting as a parent to see our children through rose-colored glasses. Even though logic tells us our kids can’t be perfect (none of us are!) we still want to believe they are the smartest, best, brightest little people on earth. But ignoring a weight problem won’t make it any less real.
In a study by researchers from the University Medical Centre Groningen in The Netherlands, parents showed that when it comes to weight, those rose-colored glasses are blinding them to the truth. Of the children in the study deemed “overweight” by medical standards, 75 per cent of mothers and 77 per cent of fathers thought that their child was normal weight.
Admitting there is a problem is the best way to start solving it. Most pediatricians will provide you with height and weight statistics for your child at his or her annual well check, and can let you know if they fall within normal ranges, or if there is cause for concern.
Parent, Heal Thy Self
You are the most important person in your child’s life, and your actions and words have more impact on their view of things than any other single factor.
So go on, take a good long look at yourself. Interestingly, parents who fail to see weight problems in their children are more honest about the state of their own condition. Encouraging your child to correct its diet and lose weight will be a lot easier if you are along for the ride!
A study by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, and The University of Minnesota, indicates that a parent’s weight change is a key contributor to the success of a child’s weight loss.
When your child sees you committed to change and being healthy, they more naturally just follow your lead – and that benefits the whole family.
Getting Enough zzzz’s Can Mean Healthier Weight
Every parent has probably experienced the dark side of a cranky child who hasn’t had their nap (I know I have!) and while most parents would tell you that they understand sleep is important, they may not even begin to know just how important it is when it comes to healthy weight.
A team of New Zealand researchers took on the question, “Does the amount of sleep a child gets have anything to do with increased risk of being overweight?” The children in the study started at age 3, and had their BMI (Body Mass Index) measured every 6 months until they turned age 7. The results of the study show that young children who sleep less than an average of 11 hours per day are at a significantly increased risk of having a higher BMI by age 7, even after controlling for other risk factors that can impact body weight regulation.
Making sure children are getting enough sleep not only makes them happier little people to be around, but helps them keep their weight healthy.
Television Ads For Fast Food And The Obesity Link
By now, most people have at some point heard discussions about fast food and the debates over how healthy or unhealthy it really is. And while all of those discussions have interesting merit, a new study about the advertising itself gives some startling results that parents should be aware of.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Auden C. McClure, MD, MPH, FAAP, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, studied how easily children were able to identify television ads from the previous year, including some still pictures with brands removed, from fast food restaurants.
Almost twice as many of the children in the study who were categorized as obese were able to name the restaurant associated with the advertising. This study relates obesity in young people to familiarity with fast food ads. Dr. McClure explains that it is possible that children who absorb these TV ads develop an unconscious preference toward high calorie food brands and eat while watching TV.
So, it is important that parents be aware of their children’s exposure to fast food advertising and be pro-active to teach them healthy diet choices.
Breaking Bread As A Family
Eating together as a family is a wonderful time to share adventures of the day, and bond with each other. Life is so busy, it allows my own family a dedicated time to get reacquainted with each other.
But eating together as a family has some additional health benefits that reach far beyond the dinner hour.
In a study by the University of Minnesota, researchers found that when kids, especially during their teen years, ate with their families, their adult eating habits included consuming more fruits and vegetables and drinking fewer sodas.
Being able to carry healthy eating habits into adulthood not only benefits your children – it will foster healthy eating in an entirely new generation of your grandchildren! Well, that may be jumping ahead just a little, but you get the idea.
Have Good Emotional Relationships
Having good emotional relationships with your child can greatly affect its weight when he/she becomes a teenager. A research on about 1,000 children revealed that the stronger the emotional bond between a mother and her child, the lower the risk that the child would gain weight and become obese by the age of 15. How much time do you spend with your child? Do your children have a secure emotional relationship with you?
About this Article
This article was written by Kelly, one of our contributors who blogs about Nutrisystem. Nutrisystem is a diet plan based on the proven science of the Glycemic index (know more here). They have a special program for teens so if your child is overweight, Nutrisystem may help.
Helping your children achieve and maintain a healthy weight is more than just cutting some calories here and there. Being a constant guide and model in their lives, being aware of all that they see and do, being with them as they learn and grow and build healthy habits will benefit all of you as individuals and as a family! Now – what’s on the menu at tonight’s family dinner?