Obesity can be defined as a metabolic disorder leading to accumulation of excessive body fat, it predisposes an individual to severe diseases like diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, polycystic ovarian syndrome and various forms of cancer. As per an ICMR report, the prevalence rate of adult obesity in Indian urban areas is 45.6%, out of which 5.74% – 8.82% is found in children. While the University of Michigan Health System states that obese children are twice as likely to have future diabetes than normal weight children. Going by the nutritional choices these days it is not very difficult to identify the growing risk of obesity-related diabetes in Indian children.
Diabetes also is known as the silent killer is caused due to low insulin receptivity and uncontrolled high blood sugar levels. We do not realize but there are various things and habits around us which exposes our children towards the risk of diabetes.
Some of them are:
- Lack of exercise: As today’s recreational methods for children is not playing outside but spending time watching tv and playing games this is slowly resulting in more obese kids in the nation.
- Refined foods: The trend of eating out has increased tremendously making junk food like burgers, pizzas etc. their first preference.
- High carbohydrate diet: Lack of nutritional balance is a major contributor in the occurrence of obesity and diabetes. All nutrients are important but balancing them is more important, a diet based only on cereals like potatoes, maida will ultimately lead to obesity.
- Packaged food: In today’s busy time parents and their children are dependent on packaged food. Packaged food is the worst kind of food to feed your child with as it is usually high in sodium and trans fat i.e a major contributing factor to childhood diabetes.
- Unnatural/Nonseasonal foods: These foods are loaded with preservatives and grown by unnatural methods which can really mess up the hormonal balance of children.
- Misleading food labels: Labelling and advertising gimmicks often ropes in parents to buy foods that appear to be healthy but are high in hidden sugars such as fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose and refined carbohydrates such as potato starch, rice starch etc.
Some of the ways to prevent future diabetes in obese children are:
- Increasing physical activity: This can be done by engaging your child in any sport such as basketball, cricket, badminton or even dancing. Make sure your child is playing out at least for 60 minutes in a day.
- Eating real food: If the child is presented with fresh, seasonally grown food in an attractive form. A lot of junk food can be avoided.
- Innovating recipes: Children are fussy eaters thus parents can innovate recipes to fulfill the nutritional quotient as well as their taste buds such as whole wheat chana tikki burger, vegetable vermicelli instead of instant noodles, fresh homemade soups instead of packed food, fresh berry smoothie instead of sugar-laden fruit syrup smoothie, using almond to flavour the milk instead of milk flavourings that are very high in sugar, can prove to be great alternatives.
- Keeping the weight in check: Being overweight in childhood is an early indicator of future risk of diabetes, thus the parents should keep a check on their child’s weight and eating habits.
- Finding alternatives to sugar-rich foods: Mostly all kids are a dessert fan, sugar in the form of chocolates, cakes, pastries, ice creams seems to be very attractive. Whole fruits, fruit yogurts, and fruit-based desserts can be a yummy and smart enough alternative to fulfill their sweet tooth
- Avoid fruit juices: Any kind of juice, specially packaged juice, should be avoided. Always remember it is better to eat a whole fruit than to drink it.
- Learn to say no: One silent cause of childhood obesity and diabetes is the over pampering done by parents to their children. Giving them sweets, chips, chocolates is not an ideal reward as it can be costly to health in the future.
- Nutrition education: It is very important for the parents to educate themselves and their children about the right nutritional choices and correct reading of food labels. Be a role model and set an example for them.
So next time when your child asks for a bag of chips, a box of chocolate or a pizza treat every now and then as a reward, question yourself whether you are giving them a reward or predisposing them to deadly diseases. Childhood eating habits can be a good predictor of future diabetes.
So Make smart nutritional choices, keep your child healthy and fit!!!!