High consumption of junk food and limited physical activity have contributed highly to childhood obesity. A child is said to be obese if they have a body mass index of 30 and above. Why should we be concerned?

Children who are overweight suffer from depression, lower self-esteem and social isolation whose ramifications last into adulthood. Furthermore, children with obesity have increased chances of suffering from chronic health conditions such as asthma, type 2 diabetes and joint problems, as well as heart diseases, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Here’s what you can do as a mother to prevent childhood obesity. If you want your child to lose weight, consult a dietician so as not to interfere with their normal growth and development.

Cut down on sugary treats

Many mothers often use snacks and sugary treats to express their love to their children, or even to encourage them to perform better in school. It is not uncommon to find children with their parents in malls and restaurants on Sundays indulging in chips, desserts, burgers and pizza, which are high-calorie and high sugar foods that make them add more weight. While it is okay to enjoy such treats once in a while, you can replace them with fruits, veggies and grain snacks.

Furthermore, mothers should ensure that healthy food becomes a natural part of their kitchen environment. Your kids should not be used to finding ice cream in the fridge; instead fill it with nuts, fruits (bananas, apples, grapes and so on) and vegetables such as carrots. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein as you encourage your family to drink lots of water. When eating out, opt for African cuisines.

Create time for exercise

The rule; ‘he who eats should exercise’, holds the key to maintaining a healthy weight. Teach your children that exercising is part of living a healthy life and not a punishment, as most kids view it. Obesity is associated with kids who eat and spend the whole day watching television without engaging in any physical activity.

Ensure that you find an exercise that is appropriate for your child’s age and one you can also engage in with them such as brisk walks or dancing. You can also play games that involve running around such as football. It is important to involve yourself in the activities as a mother so that you can motivate your kids to keep engaging in them. If your family loves nature, then you can team up for gardening and let the kids dig up dirt and help to plant, or you can go for nature walks.

Do not skip breakfast or any meal

Most mothers tend to think that skipping breakfast or any meal for that matter may help their children to lose weight faster, but this isn’t exactly the case. The higher your hunger levels are, the higher your quantity of food intake. Skipping breakfast will increase your child’s hunger pangs and he will eat more during their next meal. This will lead to them exceeding the recommended daily calorie intake, leading to their weight gain and not weight loss.

Serve reasonably-sized portion

Children who often overeat are likely to become overweight. Mothers should therefore be keen on the sizes of portion they serve their kids. This will go a long way in helping them maintain a healthy weight. You can begin by serving the food in smaller plates so that the meals can look larger.

You can also avoid the act of your kids reaching out for a second serving by serving meals in the kitchen and not bringing the whole pot to the table. If your kid feels like they are full, do not insist that they finish what is left on their plate. This will teach them to stop eating when they are full and therefore avoiding instances of overeating.