Obesity, especially in children, is on the rise in our country. In Southeast Asia, we have one of the highest number of obese children.
Find out from Dr Salehuddin Samsudin, a consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at ParkCity Medical Centre, what you can do to help your children maintain a healthy weight.
Dr Salehuddin: Firstly, poor diet. When a toddler starts getting access to food beyond milk, this is the time where parents should be more careful with what food to introduce to their children. Most parents find snacks a good way to pacify children. It is a treat, and shouldn’t happen too often. It’s good to see how people are more concerned about the food they consume, but parents still often overlook the importance of having a balanced diet. For instances, we should have a portion of fruits and vegetables at every meal. Ideally, you should have 5 portions of vegetables and fruits every day. But generally speaking, not all children like fruits and vegetables; even some adults don’t. So if you’re not eating fruits and vegetables, chances are, your children won’t. If parents expose their children to fruits and vegetables at a young age and make this a norm in the family, it cultivates a behaviour the child will continue even when they are an adult.
Secondly, the lack of physical activity. We need a good exercise routine. The recommendation is to have half an hour of exercise every day or an hour three times a week. Adults and children need the same amount of exercise, but children are comparably more active. Once they start school, however, their lifestyle becomes more passive as they’re encouraged to sit down and stay well-behaved. Of course this is necessary, but children need to slot in a certain amount of exercise every day. For instance, parents can take the children to discover a park or playground, and encourage them to play or cycle there.
These days, children are told to not stay outdoors, for safety reasons or because of environmental hazards. Though these are valid reasons, come to think of it, if the chance to play outdoors is taken away from them, how will children fill their time? They will stay home, watching TV, playing computer games, looking at their mobile phones. They’re actually replacing their exercise hour with non-physical activities. With a lack of exercise, and more processed food, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why our obesity rate is skyrocketing.