The Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to a rise in obesity among children due to the suspension of in-person classes and the launch of virtual learning. This has played havoc with the health of our children, mainly due to a lack of access to healthy meal options and limited physical activity due to lockdown restrictions. Our lifestyle has changed for the worse and add to this the Covid-created anxiety – it’s a very worrying situation.
Since we all know that excess weight is one of the several ‘side effects’ of Covid 19, we must take measures to help everyone, including adults and children, to prevent obesity and achieve a healthier weight.
Develop and start a healthy eating habit, get more active and be fit with more physical action. Tackling obesity is not just an individual’s effort, it’s also about the environment we live in, the information we are given to make choices, and opt for a healthy choice.
In years to come, we may be able to control Covid-19 but obesity is an issue that will linger, probably with long-term impact on our mental health.
Obesity leads to fatty liver, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes and many other lifestyle diseases, some of which affect even our children. It’s all because of the lack of exercise and the sedentary lifestyle that we all are sadly embracing these days.
According to health experts, if children remain obese into adolescence, they will have an 80 percent chance of being in the same state when they enter adulthood. Obesity will have negative impact in later years because, as children, they were less active and will become less interested in physical activities. Research shows that kids with a healthy weight tend to be fitter, and better able to learn and are more confident.
There are some kids who enjoy sports and outdoor activities and there are some who prefer reading, writing etc. We can help both by finding types of movement they love on their own. It could be dance routines or yoga videos for older kids or building forts out of couch with cushions for little ones. Let them choose the type of activities they are comfortable with.
Sometimes, children gain weight as a symptom of depression, anxiety or other mental issues. In such cases, talk to them about their problems and even consider seeking professional help. Moreover, children need to know they are safe and cared for and trust their body’s change no matter what that is. It’s a great necessity to discourage children from having sugary or high fat foods like sweets, cakes, biscuits, sugary cereals and sweetened soft and fizzy drinks.
Their meals and snacks must mostly include fresh foods instead of processed items and salty snacks. Include more fruits and vegetables to the daily diet.
Another significant precaution is to avoid sitting and lying around too much as it causes weight gain, and similarly, limit the amount of screen time they spend on inactive pastimes like playing games. Good sleep is absolutely essential as children with less sleep have a greater risk of being obese. Lack of sleep can even affect their mood and behaviour.
Family history and psychological factors play an important role in childhood obesity. If parents and other family members are overweight, then children are more prone to the same condition. In today’s situation, kids and teens are more bored, stressed and depressed and may eat more to cope with the negative emotions. So, there is a need to take additional help from a nutritionist or a dietician for the transition to a healthier way of eating.
Taking into consideration this serious issue, prepare nutritious meals and stay active with our kids. During this stressful time, encourage body awareness in kids, make them more active, make them feel supported, love them and convince them that all we want for them is to be healthy and happy.
And more importantly, ensure that they are getting proper exercise and nutrition to avoid unusual weight gain and guarantee a better future for them.