Obesity in ChildrenUsually, obesity is associated with the adults. However, recent studies have revealed that number of overweight children is increasing day by day. According to a study report, the numbers of overweight children have doubled over last thirty years. Overweight does not only make children big in size but may also result in development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, asthma and heart diseases. Parents make all out effort to ensure that their child remains healthy but don't know the exact way of doing it. A program, called 'We Can!' Ways to Enhance Children's Activities and Nutrition has been introduced by the National Education Program to guide the parents, teachers, caregivers on this aspect.
Children take more food, specifically food with low nutritional value and high calories. Moreover, the physical activities of the children have also reduced as they spend more time with computers, playing video games and television. The educational program 'We Can!'is a nice way for parents to ensure that their children lead healthy life.
The program suggests that the families should work on three main behavioral factors increased physical activities, healthy eating and reduction in recreational activities. Small alterations to life style like giving fruits instead of snacks, using regular soda in place of water, intake of low-fat or fat-free milk, motivating children to undertake physical activities instead of spending more time in front of computer or watching TV will provide better chance of ensuring better health to the children. We Can! Also guides you on food choices. For this the program has categorized the food in three categories 'Go foods' (can be taken anytime), 'Slow foods' (can be taken several times a week) and 'Whoa foods' (to be taken only on special occasions or once in a while).
The educational program 'We can!' is outcome of collaboration between four main National Institutes of Health, namely National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases; National Heart, Lungs and Blood Institute and National Cancer Institute. Resources like parent's handbook (in English and Spanish language) and tool kit providing lesson plans for children and parents are available.
The parent's handbook named 'Families Finding the Balance' offer realistic guidelines for educating parents about the symptoms, treatment and causes of childhood obesity & adopting healthy habits and makes you to stick to those behaviors. The handbook helps you in teaching your children to:
- ntake adequate quantity of different types of fruits and vegetables in everyday diet
- Select small quantities at home as well as restaurants
- Avoid eating of high-fat or energy-dense foods, specifically such foods which have low nutritional value like bacon, French fries, doughnuts etc.
- Understand the importance of physical exercises in their life. Children must do moderate physical exercises for about period of one hour everyday on all week days.
- Minimize the time spent by them in watching TV or playing computer games. Child should not spend more than two hours on recreational activities (watching TV or playing computers).
According to Dr, Elizabeth G Nabel, Director, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, 'To maintain a healthy weight, we need to strike a balance between the amount and types of food we eat, and the energy we burn up with activity.'
The 'We Can!' Program is aimed at providing information to parents and civics groups to be used by them for promoting awareness of overweight children problem in their community. Local civic groups, religious groups, parent's groups and other organizations can use this information for addressing the overweight problem. The guidelines/tips provided through the handbook, for encouraging intake of healthy nutritious diet and physical activities, is being used by number of communities like recreation departments and parks, hospitals and health systems and health department, across the country.