When buildings spring up in spaces that once upon a time were playing fields and physical education takes a back seat in schools then we can be sure childhood obesity is positioned to embarrass the world. The world has never been this heavy and from all indications we will grow heavier. Obesity cuts across all continents and all age groups. Surely childhood obesity cannot offer us any positive sides. In a society where being overweight or obese is considered a mark of affluence and parents pride themselves in having babies who look like teddy-bears, it is not surprising that we are still silent at a time when some countries are paying the price for childhood obesity.
We constantly remind our children to wear seatbelts and also wash their hands with soap and water before eating but we hardly advice our little jewels that eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise is the trump card to good health. It is important to drum it home that obesity is a health risk that they need to avoid to ensure that they grow into healthy adults. Good health definitely makes life more enjoyable.
Remember an obese child is often prone to diseases that only a few years ago were the preserve of the elderly. Imagine developing high blood pressure, type II diabetes and high cholesterol before your 20th birthday. This increases your risk of developing complications such as heart attacks, strokes, amputations and a whole lot in your forties when you are at the peak of your career. What a loss! There is still hope though. We can stop this canker if we start now. Before we can make a change we need to recognize that we have a time bomb on our hands.
What is the Cause of this trend?
This is partly due to the dramatic shift in children’s lifestyle. Children have become more sedentary, spending hours on end watching television, playing with electronic gadgets that require one to be sitting most of the time and surfing the internet. Contrast that with a decade or two ago when playing gutter-to-gutter with socks-ball was worth missing a meal or two, ampe was glorious and children simply loved to run around outdoors. The food they eat has not improved either and unhealthy snacks are readily available at home and in school. Few families are sitting together to enjoy a nutritious dinner. Children thrive on fast foods which is high in calories, sugar and fat and most of them do not have a regular eating schedule. All these are a sure way to arrive in the land of obesity. It is unfortunate that many people consider these foods the in-thing and will always choose fried rice with questionable chicken over apem (plantain) and abom with fish.
Prevention is the best cure
As parents we are the best role models for our children so let us set the right examples. The best way to avoid a weight problem with your children is to start early with a healthy lifestyle. Encourage good eating habits and exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle and adopt these habits yourself.
Tips to prevent childhood obesity
An obese child is no laughing matter, neither is it a reflection of the affluence of his or her parents. It is a time bomb waiting to explode. A real health hazard covered with fat. Take aggressive steps now to avoid it or reverse it.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials/St Andrews Clinic
*Dr. Kojo Essel is a Medical Doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in Exercise Therapy, Fitness Nutrition & Corrective Exercise.
Thought for the week – “Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. The problem is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings. The prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. Globally, in 2016 the number of overweight children under the age of five, is estimated to be over 41 million. Almost half of all overweight children under 5 lived in Asia and one quarter live in Africa.” - WHO