Obesity, which simply refers to excessive accumulation of fat, is now an epidemic. Obesity is now perceived not just as a health challenge but also a social challenge. In fact, most countries are claiming that about 1/3 of the teenage population in their respective jurisdictions are obese. Such dilemma, nevertheless, can be controlled given the right interventions. Of course, if you are obese and you are in the adolescent stage, you do not want to be the ‘focus of attention’ of your classmates and other friends. The good news is that there are various ways by which you can fight obesity.
The leading causes of obesity among teenagers are too much indulgence on fast foods and physical inactivity. In a nutshell, teenagers grow so fast thus need more calories as possible. There is a need to eat foods with high nutrients but low in sodium, saturated fats and cholesterol. With this, teenagers have to be taught about nutrition more so because they are the ones who should make choices for themselves especially when they are outside. Educate the teenagers about the importance of healthier food options. Encourage teenagers of eating breakfast as well as choosing bottled water compared to sodas. Finally, encourage the teens to sign-up to various activities like sports.
Basically, teenagers stay in school for approximately 30 to 40 hours on a weekly basis. Healthy eating habits can be more demonstrated while at home, and it begins even before the teenager leaves the house. Having said this, the entire household could be a great way to start the fight against obesity. This should be the case especially that obesity could have also started from this place. What parents should do is to make breakfast for the adolescences. There are studies that prove that eating breakfast can lead to better academic performance.
Further, what the parents stock in the fridge and shelves will tell much about whether healthy eating habits had been established early on. There are specific food items that when stocked in your house may encourage unnecessary snacking. Junk foods, sugar-rich juices and sodas must be avoided. Instead, stock on fruits and vegetables that the teenager wants. The Department of Health introduces the ‘5 a day rule’, wherein the adolescence would have to consume five varieties of fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. As such, consider foods that are fiber-rich, with zero trans fat and low-fat.
Evidently, the role of the parents or guardian in fighting obesity is a must. Parents must be instrumental in encouraging physical activities among the teenagers through specific house rules. This must begin when the child is a toddler. For instance, limiting the television and computer times would be necessary. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health noted that about 58% of the teens watch TV for 2 to 4 hours and 22% watch for more than 5 hours a day. Imagine how much calories will be burned if such time is devoted to playing outside. As much as possible, you have to get the teens to be active if they do not necessarily want to exercise.
This brings us to the next way which is to sign up for sports. The sedentary lifestyle of the teens may be combated through different sports activities. While not all teenagers are into sports, there is always a physical activity that may fit the needs of the adolescences. There are actually low impact sports that the teenagers may get involved in. For instance, there are brisk walking organizations that encourage group brisk walking in the morning. There are also some nonprofit organizations that offer aqua aerobics for adolescences if your kid is fond of swimming. There are various benefits of signing them up. Specifically, joining various activities may boost the confidence level of the teens and this is also a great way of making friends.
As parents, it is also your responsibility to be aware of what the school is doing to fight obesity among the students. The school cafeteria is your first target, determining whether it is offering healthy food choices that your adolescences can indulge in. School administrations are accountable to the parents, a fact that can be easily ignored. However, while the schools want to introduce healthy snacks for the students, they are mostly restricted financially. Also, even some schools that claim that they are now offering healthier menus for the students cannot guarantee this claim. It is more lip-service than reality. Pack lunch for your kid to ensure that s/he eats only the most nutritious foods.
Further, a study commissioned by Northwestern University maintains that inadequate sleep can increase the risk of being obese. As such, sleep affects the body mass index of teenagers where an additional hour of sleep can lower the risk of obesity by 34 to 30%. As such, you have to make sure that your adolescences are getting enough sleep since this is good for the body. Like adults, when teenagers are deprived of sleep, metabolism rates tend to go lower so sleeping between seven and nine hours is a must.
Encouraging the teenagers to exercise regularly is perhaps the most important aspect of fighting obesity, of course, other than food intake. If you think that enrolling in fitness program is costly, then why do it in your home? In this way, the teenager would not feel that his/her parents are forcing him/her to exercise. This is the last thing that obese teenagers should feel – that their parents are forcing them to do something that they do not necessarily want. They will be offended when they are forced to do so without explaining to him/her the need to do so. Instead, make this a family bonding time where all the members of the family will be involved. Anyhow, this should only take about 20 to 30 minutes every day.
In sum, there are so many opportunities for any teenager to fight obesity be it in school or at home. The role of the parents is to encourage a healthy lifestyle among the teenagers to overcome being obese.