On a worldwide level, 150 million children suffer from child obesity, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and the number of obese children will increase by 100 million in the next ten years. In Romania, there will be almost 500,000 obese children and teenagers by 2030.

Government policies for the prevention of child obesity have proven themselves inefficient, and junk food has been aggressively promoted. The WHO claims that these are the main causes behind the alarming increase of child obesity levels.  

How do children become obese?

The main factors leading to child obesity are unhealthy eating and a sedentary lifestyle. Genetic predisposition is not something to be ignored either. The probability for a child with overweight parents to become obese is quite high. There are studies proving that women who smoke or who put on too many extra kilos during pregnancy are at risk to have an obese child.

The uncontrolled consumption of sweets, fast food, or sugary drinks, combined with a lack of physical activity, lead to piling on unwanted extra weight. 

Most of the times, children are more attracted to computer games rather than outdoor activities. In the case of children under two years old, the negative effect of screens on sleep has been proven. Not getting enough sleep is a potential risk factor for obesity.

Generally, an overweight child is not very active. The lack of exercise will turn him into an obese child in quite a short time, which eventually will lead to a certain decrease in self-esteem. Obesity affects a child's health and quality of life. An obese child will be marginalized. This child will become, most probably, an obese adult.

Obesity is often associated with mental health conditions, diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, decreased life expectancy and even some types of cancer.

What we can do in order not to have obese children?

Sport and a balanced diet can prevent obesityStudies have shown that the first two years of a child's life determine the development of the future adult. In this period of time, the quantity of fatty tissue is formed. A wrong diet stimulates a much faster multiplication of these cells, and the child is set for a wrong start in life. Parents are the ones who decide what lifestyle they should adopt for their child.

The WHO claims that exclusive breastfeeding until the age of six months is one of the obesity prevention methods. In the first two years of life, a child should not be given foods that contain salt or sugar, in order to avoid weight related problems later down the line. The WHO recommends breastfeeding until the age of two years old, combined with a balanced diversified diet. 

 Great Britain's National Health Service offers parents a set of advice for preventing obesity. Therefore, the child should have five portions of fruit and vegetables per day, should not be given sweets as rewards, and access to electronic devices should be limited. At the same time, the child should be encouraged to choose a sport he would happily perform.

The Italian Pediatric Society states that sports prevent obesity and improves metabolism. Children should have approximately 60 minutes of moderate physical activity each day. We are not necessarily talking about structured physical activity, but rather an active lifestyle (brisk walking, cycling, stairs climbing, playing outdoors, walking to school). For children, physical activity should not mean only sports, but also playing, as the Italian Pediatric Society emphasizes. No child should spend more than one hour in front of a screen. 

Therefore, parents lead a decisive role in a child's lifestyle. At the age of two, a child cannot choose his own menu, just as well as he cannot decide when he will watch TV. Be a positive example for your child. Teach him to choose healthy food and to make physical activity a part of his life.

Weight loss and health program - 136BPM.ro 

Do you want to lose weight at home or wherever you are, but at the same time to have your own fitness and nutrition coach? Do you want to stop wasting your time by going to the gym and avoid the annoying looks and advices of those who consider themselves experts? With a different approach from other similar projects, 136BPM.ro is an exercise platform dedicated to those concerned about beauty and health. This losing weight and health program contains information of interest to those who are concerned about their own appearance and about personalized, varied, efficient and modern workouts. The losing weight and health program at home or wherever you are is primarily aiming for personal development through exercise, is addressed to all age categories and is a loyal and reliable friend, but also a serious and rigorous coach, at just one click away in any corner of the world!

Text: Nicoleta Pescu