Be your child’s role model


Obesity needs no introduction. Let’s start with few facts that are shackling and warrant an immediate attention.

  • 20% Indians are overweight ; 15% of Indian children are overweight
  • More than 40 million children under the age of 5 yrs of age were overweight & obese worldwide in 2012
  • Children who are obese before 5 yrs of age are at extreme risk of cardio-vascular diseases.
  • Obesity is a “Killer” lifestyle that is the 2nd leading cause of preventable deaths.

The Adipose tissue (where the fat cells are stored) grows by two mechanisms:

HYPERTROPHY: Increase in the size of fat cell

HYPERPLASIA: Increase in the number of fat cell

The critical periods for becoming obese occur during early growth period (i.e infancy, childhood till adolescent). Once the body has added extra fat cells, these cells remain and store varying amounts of fat. So in case of obese child the number of fat cell are extremely high. And these fat cells can’t be reduced.

So even when the obese child reduces weight in the later years,” he/she can only reduce the size of existing fat cells and cant reduce the number of fat cells in the body.”So they have to be exceptionally careful during adulthood and adopt a stringent lifestyle that helps them to maintain normal weight.

This clearly underlines the importance of forming healthy eating habits during the formative years. We often hear the cliché that “they are kids; they can eat everything.  Looking at the statistics, this doesn’t hold true. Too much sugar, bakery products, cookies & chocolates, Packaged & outside food are not good for anyone. Moderation is the key.

There are few factors that cause obesity during early growth period:

  • Gestational diabetes: The child is at higher risk of obesity if the mother has gestational diabetes during pregnancy.
  • Maternal over-nourishment: Everyone wants chubby babies, but no one likes chubby adults. The Indian mother (or rather the family) always wants to feed their babies more than needed or they are always complaining that their babies are not eating enough. This leads to overfeeding.

“Infants and children are quite capable of recognising satiety. However, their innate awareness seems to decline between the ages of 3 & 5 years, when “super-sized” meal servings start to influence the amount of food eaten, despite satiety.”

Therefore stress needs to be placed on Healthy babies rather than chubby babies.

  • Formula breastfeeding: The studies have shown that formula-fed babies are at higher risk of obesity than breastfeed babies.
  • Genetics: The obesity tends to run in families
    • If one parent is obese-40% chance
    • If both parents obese- 80% chance

However the conscious efforts on healthy eating behavior and inclusion of physical activity right from the childhood can overrule genetic factors.

  • Other Environment Factors that affect during childhood & adolescent are :
  1. Lack of physical activities
  2. Junk food, poor lifestyle
  3. More screen time especially while eating meals.
  4. Influence of the immediate family and their eating habits:

You can’t expect your child to eat roti & subji while you are binging on pizza and French fries every other day.

In the end, I would like to conclude this blog with simple yet strong words: BE YOUR CHILD’s ROLE MODEL , To learn more visit our website Rita’s Pregnancy 101.

Palak Chaturvedi

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