The modern technologies enable people to access processed, high-calorie food cheaper and faster. Processed food is attracted by serving larger portions, cheap price and additives that increase their taste. The fact that product promotions on TV increase every day, so the tendency of children to unhealthy food accordingly also increases proportionally. Adding that our children spend their time inactive with computers and smart phones, the problem of overweight becomes inevitable for them. The shrinkage of children’s playgrounds and the lack of children’s outdoor activities also restrict their movements. As a result, excess weight in children and adolescents gradually increases and becomes the problem of the whole world. There was a three-fold increase in childhood obesity compared to 25 years ago. Causes of childhood obesity: genetics, unhealthy diet and sedentary life. Obese or overweight children are expected to experience various health problems in their future lives, such as: Type-2 diabetes, high cholesterol, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and hormone-dependent cancer. Obesity also causes psychological mood disorders such as impaired social relationships, decreased self-esteem and depression in children. Parents should help children in this regard without hurting them, educate them about healthy eating, exercises and other healthy habits. Parents should remember that children are more fragile and more sensitive.
The strict diet and prohibitions will be wrong in treatment. In order for growing children to get enough nutrients, balanced, regular and sustainable eating habits should be acquired under the expert control. Protein and calorie restriction to lose weight can negatively affect the normal growth process by reducing the nutrients required for the development of the child’s muscle mass. Education, psychological support and acting in harmony with the family are very important in the treatment of planning nutrition, exercises and movement as a part of the life. Families should be a good role model for children’s nutritional preferences from infancy and teach them healthy eating habits from infancy. While healthy food is considered at home, unhealthy food should be kept out of sight. Meals should be eaten at the dining table, not in front of the TV or computer. Choosing healthy food outside the home is possible with lifelong education on healthy nutrition and healthy life style. Food should not be used as the punishment or reward to raise children with discipline. For treatment, it will be beneficial for children to do 1 hour moderate exercises 3-4 times a week. For this, fun activities with other children or with family members will help them to exercise more. Obese children and adolescents are under psychological pressure because of being ridiculed or avoided with their excess weight, so they have more behavioral problems than normal weight children. With the effect of depression, overeating, obesity and a sedentary life occurs in school-age children. This vicious circle can adversely affect the mental and physical development of the child. In this case, help should be sought from a child psychiatrist or psychologist. Families should not blame their children for being overweight, and should clearly show that they love them. Providing the faithful and loving environment will also improve the mental development of the child and heal the opened wounds.
Exp. Dietitian Hilal MERCAN