MORE children are overweight than ever before – a time bomb for obesity in the years to come.
If eating habits are not managed now, there will be more diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease in the future.
Leading pediatric consultant Dr. Pramod Nair told the Sun on Sunday Health: “Years ago we weren’t as concerned about chubby kids as they were more likely to burn off excess weight through exercise and not grow into obese adults.”
“But now there are more obese children than ever before due to lack of exercise and poor diet, who in turn are becoming obese adults because those habits don’t change.
“Older kids don’t go out as much to play and exercise anymore, they stay at home and play on the computer.
“This sedentary lifestyle also impacts sleep — which can lead to weight gain.”
“Due to the busy lifestyle these days, there are fewer home-cooked meals and take-out can be cheaper and more convenient.
“But even small amounts of modern processed foods can lead to obesity because they contain so much sugar, fat and salt.
“Teaching children healthy habits should start as early as possible.
“I worry that if we don’t address children’s eating and lifestyle habits soon, we will have a very obese population in the years to come.”
“The obesity rate is currently high, but I suspect it could be enormous if nothing is done about it.”
The Health Survey for England already estimates that 26 per cent of adults are obese.
And in the age group of 45 to 74 year olds it is even 72 percent.
Meanwhile, new figures show that childhood obesity has risen sharply: nearly 8,800 under-17s were hospitalized in England last year with a secondary diagnosis of obesity.
And in 2021/22, 34 infants were hospitalized with the primary diagnosis of obesity.
Ten per cent of first-time children are obese and a further 12 per cent are overweight, which is almost a quarter of four and five year olds in the UK.
By year six (ages 10 and 11), that number rises to nearly 40 percent, with 23 percent of children classified as obese and 14 percent as overweight, according to the National Child Measurement Program.
since dr Nair started as a pediatrician in 1998, he observed an increasing proportion of children seeking medical help for obesity.
He said: “There was an increase of between 10 and 20 per cent in all age groups, but particularly in the over tens.
“Families often face a difficult task in achieving weight reduction in morbidly obese children, and this has significant psychological and medical implications for the child.”
dr Nair has observed how children’s BMI improved by reducing their portion sizes and using smaller plates, limiting their consumption of high-sugar and salty foods, and giving them home-cooked meals eaten together at the table.
He also suggests replacing sweets with fruit, cutting out emotional foods and getting kids to exercise at least 45 minutes a day.
Here, Sakshi Chhabra Mittal, founder of Foodhak, whose foods and recipes are based on clinical nutrition research, shares her tips on how to make your kids’ daily diet healthier.
How to add vegetables and fiber to kids meals
- Spread on a thin layer of hummus, which contains fiber, minerals, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Add grated carrots, which contain vitamin C and help keep the heart healthy.
- In tomato-based sauces, add shredded zucchini, carrot, red pepper, or butternut squash. The vegetable provides vitamins and antioxidants that have a positive effect on the immune system, brain function and eye health. Mix in beans or add a handful of red lentils, which are high in fiber and filling protein but low in fat.
- In white sauces — for lasagna or macaroni cheese — add some nutritional yeast, which is rich in B vitamins and minerals. Plus, it has a creamy texture and cheesy flavor, so you can omit some of the high-fat cheese.
casseroles and stews
- Add high-protein chia seeds or some frozen spinach for vitamins A, C, and K, as well as iron, folate, and potassium.
- Mix buckwheat, which contains heart-healthy nutrients, or high-protein quinoa with oatmeal to make porridge. You can even stir in cooked, vitamin A-fortified mashed sweet potatoes or a pinch of ground turmeric if you don’t mind the taste, which can reduce inflammation.
- Add chia or flaxseeds to smoothies, which are good for the gut but go unnoticed by little ones. Add a handful of oatmeal, which will fill you up, or add frozen cauliflower, which contains vitamins C and K and folic acid for healthy cells.
- Add orange slices or frozen berries (which are cheaper than fresh ones) to the water or liqueur for extra vitamins.
- If you’re making pancakes or waffles, crush up some frozen red berries or grated carrots and add them to the mix for an appealing pink or orange color and for a vitamin, antioxidant, and fiber boost.