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Dealing with Childhood Obesity


What is worrisome is that most parents do not even know what their child’s ideal weight should be in the context to the child’s height. Doctors and healthcare people share that when they talk to parents about the child’s weight or ask if they are aware how much the child should weigh, the answers range from being vague to being defensive. Insulin resistance, bone deterioration and respiratory disorders are just the tip of the obesity iceberg. Obese kids will not only suffer from lifestyle disorders, but also go on to develop stress, sadness, and low self-esteem. And, overweight children are at high risk of becoming overweight adolescents and adults.

My pediatrician urged me to put my daughter through intense exercise and also consult a dietician. “Immediately,” he added. Of course I didn’t head to a dietician. Whoever took children to dieticians? “Don’t tell me your child needs to be dieting now”, a voice in my head shrieked. Children do not diet. Kids should eat as much as they want. We’ve grown up knowing this. Dieting-shieting is what adults do when they over-indulge. So I didn’t. I would cut her intake of sugary food and would cut her cheese and potato consumption. Matter sorted.

So here I am, with a child who has a high chance of getting type 1 diabetes if I don’t do something about it really quickly. I am trying to coax a child (whom I had force-fed), to cut her food intake and to up her exercise. What tangled webs we weave. But I am still dietician-resistant. It takes a friend to tell me what I already know. My daughter will not be visiting the dietician to be put on a diet and/or to end up with an eating disorder, as I had imagined. She will visit a dietician so that we as a family can be steered into eating right for life.

Children’s feelings about themselves are based on how people around them—their family especially—feels about them. Therefore discussing the weight issue and creating a supportive atmosphere at home is all that is needed. Enforcing a meal regime is the surest way of getting your child to resent it and want to break it. My daughter and I, we run together. We eat the same food. We’ve all started eating healthy. We’ve added more outdoors to our lives. We pay attention to the things we already knew. Challenges come. One just needs to figure them out.

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