Categories: Paediatrics

Improving Children’s Activity and Nutrition

Healthy living is a way of life. Lifestyle diseases are dominating health problems in this country, & their impact on the youth is worrisome. It is important that children are initiated into a healthy lifestyle in a natural, happy and enjoyable manner early on in their lives. Promoting a healthy lifestyle in children is an important aspect of good parenting.

CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS:-

Challenge: Lack of Physical Activity

  • Inadequate activity levels have a negative impact on cardio-respiratory health
  • Inadequate activity is a major risk factor for obesity

Solution: Make Physical Activity Fun & Cool

  • Be a physically active role model
  • Encourage children to participate in 60 min of physical activity per day
  • Everyone must be physically active for at least 30 min a day on most days
  • Children & teenagers must be physically active for at least 60 min a day on most days
  • Find fun, physically active ways to celebrate special occasions, such as swimming or roller-skating parties
  • Add physical activity to weekend or vacation plans, such as hiking, biking or long walks

Challenge: Children Are Glued To the TV

  • The average child spends up to 4 hours of watching television, playing video games & surfing the net each day

Solution: Minimize Sedentary Habits

  • Restrict TV: Start by removing TV sets from children’s bedrooms & allowing a maximum of two hours of quality TV Programs per day. Try making TV commercials a time to be physically active; whether it is skipping, stretching or jumping on a trampoline
  • Enjoyable options: Encourage children to spend time with different types of media, such as reading books or dancing to music

Challenge: Eating too much & the Wrong type of Food

  • Obesity is on the rise. In the upper-income group in India, 5% of children are obese & 18% are overweight
  • Obesity has major health repercussions like diabetes, hyperlipidaemia, hypertension & respiratory problems

Solution: Make Healthy Eating a Way of Life

  • Eat together as a family, preferably at a dining table
  • Never eat while watching TV / at the computer
  • Breakfast – the most important meal of the day
  • Eat frequently & eat slowly
  • Respond to hunger cues: start eating when slightly hungry & stop when just satisfied
  • Portion control: learn how much to eat

Promote Healthy Nutrition

  • Be aware of & balance food groups
  • Food groups include grains, vegetables, fruits, milk & protein food

CAN YOU TELL IF YOUR CHILD’S WEIGHT IS NORMAL?

Overweight children often become overweight adults. It is therefore important that we monitor our child’s weight & try to maintain it in the normal healthy range. BMI (Body Mass Index) is a calculation that uses height & weight to estimate body fast. Using this tool, one can determine how appropriate a child’s weight is for his/her height & age.

The calculated BMI score is plotted on the BMI – for age growth chart (for either girls or boys) to obtain a percentile ranking. The growth chart shows the weight status categories used for children & teenagers (underweight, normal, overweight & obese)

The formula used to calculate BMI is weight in kg/ height in meter square

Weight Status Children Adults
Obese BMI>95% tile >30
Overweight BMI 85-95% tile >25
Normal BMI 5-85% tile 18.5-25
Underweight BMI <5% tile <18.5

Check your child’s BMI!

EAT HEALTHY, BE ACTIVE

Some questions to get you thinking about your home environment:

  • How often does the family eat together?
  • How often do family members eat a wholesome breakfast?
  • What Kinds of snacks are available & accessible to your children when they are hungry?
  • Is the TV turned on during the meal times?
  • How many hours do your children go down to play (any sport/physical activity included) each day?

PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE

  • Help your children form healthy habits now.
  • Healthy & active children are more likely to be healthy & active adults.

Dr. Mahesh Balsekar | Senior Consultant – Paediatrics | SRCC Children’s Hospital, Mumbai

Narayana Health

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