As parents, we desire for our children to lead healthy, productive lives. It can be difficult to take care of our bodies when there is great temptation to eat so many unnatural foods and be inactive. Obesity is becoming more common, with very negative effects. It is important that we talk to our kids about obesity and its dangers so they can learn strategies for being healthy and taking care of the body that they are entrusted with for life.
What Is Obesity?
Obesity is having too much body fat, which is a simple way to explain it to a child. If someone is found to be significantly higher in average weight for their height, they may be obese. BMI charts can give an indication as well.
Health Not Appearance
It is important that we focus on the right reason for having the talk about obesity. It should not be about a desire for an appearance that is considered socially “worthy” as this can lead to self-hate and eating disorders. Our bodies are unique and made to be loved and cared for. When speaking to your child about obesity, focus on the concept of loving oneself enough to care for your body in the best way possible, rather than focusing on anyone’s particular size or shape.
What Causes Obesity?
Explain to your child the many factors that can contribute to obesity. These may include poor dietary choices, which can starve your body of good nutrients while overwhelming it with more calories than it can burn. Lack of activity is often a factor. Exercise burns calories and preps our muscles to be more efficient with the food that we consume. When we are not involved in adequate physical activity, out muscles become stagnant and our body changes and will become less effective at this job.
Another factor in obesity is not getting enough sleep. When you are fatigued, your body’s hormones are affected, which can cause your body to retain excess weight. Sometimes genetics can cause a predisposition to obesity. Often it is a combination of more than one factor.
How Can You Change Things?
Look at your lifestyle factors and decide what you can change. Eat the right amount of a wide variety of healthy, whole foods. Drink plenty of water. Exercise regularly – several times per week. Get plenty of sleep. As a parent, resist the urge to put your child on a “diet” as this may not only erode their self-esteem, but can deprive them of much-needed vitamins and minerals. If nothing seems to help, consult a doctor as your child may have an underlying health problem.
Implement these changes as a family. Do it in a way that it does not seem like a punishment, and highlight on the positives. Remark how delicious the fresh fruit you are eating is, and be vocal about how great you feel after you get back from a vigorous walk. Prepare healthy meals together and be sure to make it a fun, positive time.
Conquering obesity and sharing this important info with your children is vital in a world that is overrun with unhealthy options. An individual who does not love themself will neither love nor take care of their body. We must remind our children that they are unique and very special, and that they will benefit from believing the same about others also. It is only through self-respect and concern for others that we can conquer the obesity epidemic and begin to make lasting changes.