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World Obesity Day 2022: Foods that increase childhood obesity risk

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World Obesity Day became a thing only in 2015, which is quite recent compared to other important health days. World Obesity Day, which falls on March 4, gives an opportunity for people to discuss and create awareness about obesity across the globe. It is important to discuss, as worldwide obesity has almost tripled since 1975, according to World Health Organization (WHO). What’s more alarming is that it’s not just adults who are sitting and working, but also kids who are greatly affected by obesity. As many as 39 million children aged under 5 were found to be overweight or obese in 2020, as per WHO. No surprises here, food plays a major role in childhood obesity.

If your child has abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that might even affect their health, that’s obesity. It’s been predicted that India will have over 27 million obese kids, representing one in 10 children globally, in the next seven years, according to Unicef’s World Obesity Atlas for 2022.

foods can cause childhood obesity
Keep children away from junk food. Image courtesy: Shutterstock Freepik

HealthShots connected with Dr Shahid Shafi Bhat, Consultant Internal Medicine, Ujala Cygnus Group of Hospitals, Moradabad, to know about childhood obesity and foods that can cause it.

He says dietary factors are main contributions to the rising rates of obesity. Foods that are served at fast food restaurants or eating joints tend to contain a high number of calories with low or no nutritional values. High-calorie foods that have a high percentage of fat and carbohydrates play a major role in childhood obesity.

Here are some of the foods that cause childhood obesity

1. Fast food

Pizza is an Italian dish which is made of wheat-based with lots of vegetable or meat toppings. It might sound healthy, but with the amount of cheese thrown in there, it can quickly lead to weight gain. Similarly, other fast foods like burgers and patties have high fat content, says Dr Bhat. You should avoid junk food in children’s diet, as it can lead more health problems.

2. Potato chips

Potato chips come in colourful packets and different sizes, enticing kids. One packet of potato chips can be quite filling, but don’t make it a habit to give it to your kids as it has high calories, salt and unsaturated fats.

3. Sweets

Candies, desserts and chocolates are some of the favourites of kids. Many moms even use these sugary things to sort of bribe them. How many times have you told your child to study and then get a chocolate? Don’t do that, as it can not only rot their teeth but also lead to childhood obesity.

foods can cause childhood obesity
Don’t use food as a reward or punishment. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Ice cream

Now that winter has given way to summer, with many being affected by heatwave, ice cream seems to be the best way to beat the heat. The fact is it’s not really a healthy choice, as it is loaded with sugar and fat, and has a high glycemic index, which is a rating system for food items containing carbohydrates, the expert. But you can always make low calorie ice cream at home without sugar.

5. Noodles

Noodles are a favourite of many, and you don’t have to always go to a Chinese restaurant to dig into it. Many vendors also serve noodles that are consumed by many. They are made from wheat flour which is full of carbohydrates and fats, so try to avoid noodles.

6. Fruit juice

Avoid giving them too much fruit juice, especially the ones that come in tetra packs as these have high sugar and calories. Instead, give them whole fruits, as these will provide fibre, so just cut them into pieces and give them to kids.

But the expert says that do not deprive your kids of fatty and sugary foods completely as this will only increase their cravings. Make sure that you give them as occasional treats, and not make it a habit. They can have all kinds of foods, but only in moderation.

More tips to fight childhood obesity

If your child suffers from obesity, some tips can help. You can involve your kids in planning, preparing and shopping for meals. This way, you will be able to understand their preferences and teach them about the importance of nutrition. Also, encourage them to eat slowly by chewing their food properly, as this will promote satiety. Help your child to understand patterns if he or she eats when sad, bored or lonely. Help them to recognise what real hunger is, and do not use food as a punishment or reward. This will only establish an unhealthy relationship between the child and food.

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