MWW: There’s this common belief that obesity is a genetic problem that runs in the family and there’s nothing we can do about it. How true is this?
Dr Salehuddin: Genetic obesity can be changed. Genes are not a curse that will follow you all the time. So, weight can be managed despite one’s genes. Even if obesity runs in the family, it’s still preventable as long as parents encourage a balanced diet and active exercise routine.
MWW: You mentioned the risk of emotional distress earlier. How can parents identify it?
Dr Salehuddin: Children may be quieter, more temperamental, fall behind in academic performance, be reluctant to talk about things that happened in school, or have bruises from getting bullies. The signs might be really subtle, and some children hide it very well, so parents should be more aware of changes in the behaviour of their children. If you do spot the signs, it’s best to speak directly to your child about it. Reassure your child that he or she can share their feelings and worries with you. Make sure children always know that there are people who will support them.