Obese children: How parents can play a supportive role

Priya Arjun
Filed on April 2, 2017


A few schools are working towards transformation through wellness workshops, healthier food options and diverse fitness programmes.

Shamana, a Year 10 student, is a victim of  low self-confidence imposed by shameful thoughts of being overweight. He wears sweaters even during the summer. Manav, a 7th grader, is

trying to find a quick fix to obesity by skipping breakfast every day.

Do parents think that being obese is too small an issue to be concerned about in early childhood? If only Shamana had received support to handle the negative perception of body image, or Manav had  the right nutrition guidance, they would not have developed unhealthy relationships with body and food.

A few schools are working towards transformation through wellness workshops, healthier food options and diverse fitness programmes.

Britny Coulet, head of ruby house and teacher of media and film production at GEMS Wellington Academy, Silicon Oasis - which recently organised a healthy eating and lifestyle week - said: "Our wellness activities are holistic and aimed at enhancing the awareness levels of the students on various aspects of health, equipping them to make conscious healthy choices, while meeting their physical, emotional and intellectual needs. We have seen that the children are receptive to this."

Still, there is a gap because of treat-fuelled events like birthday parties at fast food outlets, venues such as activity camps selling fizzy drinks and burgers and pastry shops in every nook and corner of malls and supermarkets displaying processed food products.

When parents pamper kids with junk treats as an expression of love or as reward to motivate or as response to stress, they are unintentionally teaching them to develop an emotional connection with food in the long term. These children run into the risk of  emotional binge eating, besides diabetes, hypertension and hormonal imbalances in later stages.

Be a role model in healthy eating, exercising

> Clinically recognise overweight and obese conditions
> Create a supportive environment. Listen to the child's concerns about body weight and avoid the words like 'fat', 'thin' and 'dieting'. Instead, help the children to connect positively with food by involving them in deciding menus, teaching them food labels, and getting them to understand the story behind the food
> Be a role model to kids when it comes to healthy eating
> Practise mindful eating as a family. This involves eating with awareness - not to be triggered by emotions - but by tuning in to the body's requirements for hunger, energy and nourishment
> Avoid distractions during eating like using gadgets
> Incorporate exercise in your daily routine

(Priya Arjun is a certified holistic wellness coach)

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