Moms Guides for Avoiding Child Obesity

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In Singapore, just like other parts of the world, obesity is a growing concern even though the state has been able to reduce the overall proportion of overweight children.

Since obesity in children is largely due to excessive calorie consumption and inadequate physical exercise, It is important that parents help their children develop positive eating habits. Oftentimes, parents lack the necessary nutritional knowledge and are obese themselves.

While we may think that it is healthier for toddlers to be drinking skim or 1% milk instead of growing up milk formula, it may actually prove to be more protective against obesity if they are sipping on a bottle of the higher fat-containing 2%, whole milk or even growing up milk.

Moms should know that formula does not equal a fat baby. Obesity only means your baby wasn't getting the nutrients it needed, therefore once you started giving them, their body played catch up. Also, can also not over feed a baby.

A nutritious and balanced diet is all the more important for toddlers as they do not only need nutrition for day to day activities, but also for development and growth. Like adults, children need to consume a combination of healthy foods, like low-fat dairy products, whole grains, lean meats, fruits and vegetables, while keeping fats and sugar to a minimum. But, it is important to allow your toddler small amounts of his favourite foods once or twice a week, so that he doesn't feel deprived.

How to know if your child is growing normally

You, as a mom, can use the weight-for-height or the BMI charts that are available in the child’s Health Booklet to get an idea of your child’s weight relative to the height. This chart is useful for children aged 6 to 18 years of age.

Toddlers whose BMI are between the 5th to 97th percentile are considered within the acceptable weight while those between the 90th to 97th percentile are generally considered to be overweight. Any child above the 97th percentile is severely overweight.

How to help your child eat more healthily

Most children mirror their parents’ behaviour. When you spend time together, especially mealtimes, with your child, it will allow you to monitor the eating habits and also set appropriate examples.

What you can do to prevent obesity in your child

Apart from encouraging physical play and a healthy diet in your child, these are a few things a concerned mom can do:

1. Limit time spent in front of the TV or computer about 2 hours a day

2. Eliminate bad eating habits: do not encourage eating while studying, watching TV, eating to cope with stress or eating between meals.

3. Avoid unhealthy food associations. Art up a reward system that does not depend on food. In place of this, encourage exercise or positive behaviour. For instance, you can reward the child with a new badminton racquet, rollerblades or even give him permission to play longer outdoors.

4. Lastly and most importantly, the family has to make a commitment to a healthy diet and lifestyle.