On Wednesday, the Barbados Government launched a Childhood Obesity Prevention campaign to tackle the issue of childhood obesity in Barbados.
The campaign, an initiative of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Barbados, dubbed ‘Stop! Yuh TOO Sweet’, will initially focus solely on the support of policy change to ban the sale of sugary sweets in schools.
In today’s column we take a look at tips to combat childhood obesity.
Obesity is a chronic disease affecting increasing numbers of children, teens and adults.
A primary reason that prevention of obesity is so vital in children is because the likelihood of childhood obesity persisting into adulthood increases as the child ages. This puts the person at high risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Children and teens
Young people generally become overweight or obese because of poor eating habits and lack of physical activity. Genetics and lifestyle also contribute to a child’s weight status.
Recommendations for prevention of overweight and obesity during childhood and teens include:
· Gradually work to change family eating habits and activity levels rather than focusing on a child’s weight.
· Be a role model. Parents who eat healthy foods and participate in physical activity set an example so that a child is more likely to do the same.
· Encourage physical activity. Children should have 60 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. More than 60 minutes of activity may promote weight loss and provide weight maintenance.
· Reduce “screen” time in front of the television and computer to less than one to two hours daily.
· Encourage children to eat only when hungry and to eat slowly.
· Don’t use food as a reward or withhold food as a punishment.
· Keep the refrigerator stocked with fat-free or low-fat milk, fresh fruit, and vegetables instead of soft drinks and snacks high in sugar and fat.
· Serve at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
· Encourage children to drink water rather than beverages with added sugar. These include soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juice drinks.