Skooc helath tips
Child health, childhood obesity, Healthy Eating, junk food, Overweight Children

What to do when Cravings Rage

Often when children can’t have a food item they want but do not need, like a packet of chips while watching TV or a bar of chocolate when you walk into a store, they resort to throwing tantrums or sulking and are later seen to be irritable and sad arounds us. Having to encounter such circumstances as a parents is quite challenging, and for the child to experience them is distressing.

What then can we do in situations as these:

  1. Communicate:

Bottled up feelings are the root cause of many lesser known external behaviors. Having an open communication channel helps you to know how your child feels and why they want one particular item and will also help your child understand why you are not in favor of them eating it. A deeper conversation will help both of you understand more about how they feel about his/her body, eating habits and patterns, weight issues, consequences of being thin/normal/fat in the outside world, a healthy milestone in parenting. Being able to communicate with your child is like opening window to let the wind in and breathe or like letting steam out of a hot pressure cooker. It’s freeing and vital!!

What can you do:  Set aside time periods to spend with your child during the day.  Especially when they will be most prone to talking like when they have just returned from school or just before bed. (No cell phones, no cooking or any other distractions. Just you and your child.)

      2. Focus:

The monotonous day to day routine of our lives easily gets us accustomed to a schedule and we could take our focus off our priorities. An important one being: Health. In the rush of the day, we don’t think of the bar of chocolate or a bag of chips we give our child for a snack and end up with our child facing the brunt of an overweight or obese body/type II diabetes/Hypertension etc. Just wanting for your child to lose weight does not help to reduce the excess weight to improve their health condition. As a parent staying focused on the goal of weight loss as well as consistently following the food and exercise protocol is essential in helping your child stay focused on their health. 

What can you do: Note it down and remind yourself to focus, move forward and walk with your child beside you.  In the process, make a conscious effort to encourage and remind yourself the reasons why you started and where you can be.

      3. Reinforce:

Disappointments with regard to weight loss are common. We expect to see the scales show something and it ends up showing us something else. Belittling, demotivating and underestimating ourselves in the very own chambers of our homes and bodies, is a statement many relate to but do not acknowledge. When you and your child achieve weight goals, you and your child need to be celebrated. Ever small win is a victory. Rewards, don’t t have to always be food but can be replaced with a healthier versions such as words of praise, a hug , a board game. But when the goals are not met, it is equally important to realize that the path to health is not always smooth. There are some bumps along the way and it is a great opportunity to re-look at what is going wrong or, what needs to be tweaked to keep the journey going. As a parent, your happiness is reflected in your child, as is your disappointment. While you celebrate a win, it is important to reinforce faith and belief in your efforts during a bump in the way.

What can you do: Make or get a card for your child that conveys the message: “Well done”, “Proud of you”, “You did it!” during the good times and words of encouragement like “I know you can do it”, “Keep giving it your best” during a plateau in weight loss.

    4. Not just say, but Do

As a parent, showing love and commitment comes not just in the form of providing for your child, imparting knowledgeable, encouraging and criticism/correction, but also in participating. Your child’s commitment to lose weight has to be your commitment too since you are the primary caregiver and make all decisions regarding your child’s health. Telling them what needs to be done is only one part of the equation. Doing the actions with them is what makes it a successful habit. The question to reflect on as a parent is: Am I just a preacher of words or am I a do-er of the same?

‘Being there’ with your child in their weight loss journey is a crucial aspect for them while losing weight. ‘Being there’ means participating in eating what they eat, exercising with them and encouraging them when they have ‘not so good days’. To know that you stand by them not only keeps them going but also boosts their confidence levels and shapes their personality.

We at Skooc, focus on these keys aspects among the parents while helping the child to lose weight.  In this way, both you and your child take a better road towards healthy living. 

Childhoodobesity, Parenting
Child health, childhood obesity, Healthy Eating, Overweight Children

Parental role towards Obesity

Childhood obesity, a rapidly acquiring global pandemic that is affecting many low and middle income countries, is one of the most serious health challenges of the 21st century. It’s prevalence has increased at an alarming rate. In 2016, the number of overweight children under the age of five was estimated to be over 41 million. Meaning almost half of all overweight children under 5 lived in Asia and a quarter lived in Africa.

Studies of child nutrition and growth have shown many ways in which parents impact their child’s development and other food and activity related behavior. Some parental roles that affects a child’s development are:

Infancy

Even before an infant is born, aspects of his mother’s pregnancy can put him or her at a risk of being overweight in childhood and later in life. An unhealthy lifestyle can increase the risk of metabolic abnormalities, including obesity, hypertension and non-insulin dependent diabetes. Expecting mothers and new mothers need to be very careful about their diet. Any over indulgence in processed food or junk food can lead to weight gain in the child.

Toddlers and Preschool Children

Being the most impressionable and influential stage of life, childhood, is when a majority of dietary habits are formed. Children develop most of their food habits through exposure and repeated experience. In the early years of a child’s life, parents have a direct role in shaping the environment such that the child can indulge in healthy eating habits.  Controlling the intake of junk food and sugary items and encouraging them to undertake physical activities is crucial to ensure good health. Parents need to work towards health as lifestyle development begins at home.

School-Aged Children and Youth

As children grow older they prioritize less on their home environment and are focused and influenced more by outside factors. That is, children spend more time away from home and get more exposed to environments that encourages unhealthy habits. Parents do not usually have a hold or control over eating habits. It is here that long-standing habits hold the child in good stead. Healthy habits once established stay with the child. Ensuring that a child focuses on physical activities while also practicing healthy dietary habits becomes crucial at this juncture as a child becomes an adult.

Parents who control or restrict what their young children eat may believe they are doing what is best for their child, but recent research challenges this assumption. Children today are more independent than ever, and simple prohibition will hardly work with them. Sharing information is a far better idea. Prevention programs can work far better.

Intervention:

Thus, creating more programs to improve parenting behavior is hugely relevant to childhood obesity and overweightness and makes for a highly promising strategy. Achieving the goal of preventing and controlling childhood obesity requires multifaceted strategies. In this, parents have a critical and influential role to play. Interventions should be executed from the very earliest stages of child development in order to make health conscious changes. With more information at hand and empathetic understanding parents can influence their child’s dietary practices, physical activity, sedentary behaviors and ultimately weight status

Family based obesity prevention programs

Surprisingly there is very little high quality data on the effectiveness of obesity prevention. One reason for the paucity of data is that, despite some studies that indicate promising results, few programs are solely parents based. For instance, many school based programs aim at preventing childhood obesity are targeted at children within school settings but include parental components that help parents set limits on television and lock out electronic devices. At Skooc, we have created a program that includes both the children as well as the parents. This program encourages building positive habits and aids the formation of healthy life patterns. The program also focuses on developing an environment that fosters healthy eating habits and physical activity among children and adolescents.

Weight Loss Program Skooc
Child health, childhood obesity, Diabetes, Healthy Eating, Obesity, Overweight Children, Social Relations

Psychological Ramifications of Childhood Obesity

We as individuals are well aware about the effects of childhood obesity on physical well-being as it is largely talked about and researched too across the decades. On the other hand, childhood obesity does have many social, emotional and psychological consequential difficulties and it is important for us to understand them. Below are some of the many mental issues that can arise out of childhood obesity and overweightness.

Low self-esteem: Self-esteem can be termed as a person’s sense of self- worth or personal value. Having low self-esteem can indirectly lead to weight based teasing and body dissatisfaction. Childhood obesity has been shown to have a direct correlation to low self-esteem and negative self-perceptions. This can have a direct impact on all other aspects of life.

Depression: When faced with depression, children can be to have a loss of interest in otherwise liked activities, they isolate themselves and feel sad and low for longer durations of time. Excess weight has also been associated with having the symptoms of depression or depression itself. Obese adolescent girls who are documented to have an even higher risk for major bouts of depression and face a number of emotional challenges which are exacerbated by the focus on body image, common at this stage of development.

Suicidal tendencies: A recent study showed that adolescents who are obese experienced feelings of committing suicide and tended to have a history of mental health issues.

Isolation: Signs of being isolated includes lack of enthusiasm, tiredness, low self-worth and anxiety. Children who are obese are often socially isolated due to negative perceptions and rejection of their peers. This social rejection can indirectly lead to low self-esteem and feelings of loneliness and anxiety.

Anxiety: Obese children are at risk of anxiety, an experience of fear or panic accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, sweating, shortness of breath etc.,  because of the stress of taunting. The child learns to dread being at school or participating in activities such as physical education in which he seems different, or less accomplished, than other children.

Poor body image: Obese children often suffers from a poor body image. This may cause him/her to avoid participating in physical activities or spending time with peers. Having a poor body image can also precipitate eating disorders such as bulimia.

Bullying: Children with a negative attitude towards weight are more likely to perceive an obese peer negatively as well as tease and bully children who appear overweight. Most overweight children face bullying at school, and it falls upon the teachers and parents to make sure that does not happen.

Discrimination: There are other obesity related problems that continue well into adolescence and beyond. Overweigh teenagers and adults might face discrimination based solely on their weight. Some research suggests that they are less likely to be accepted by society. They may also have a reduced chance of landing good jobs than their thinner peers. In short, when heavy children become heavy adults, they tend to have less acceptance, and this is something that begins when they are young.

Emotional eating: In an ironic twist, some children who are overweight might seek emotional comfort in food. This leads to a vicious cycle which adds even more calories to their plates at a time when their pediatricians and parents are urging them to eat less. Add to that the other emotional peaks and troughs the come with growing up can really do a number with their dietary patterns.

Childhood obesity can intimately entangle their emotional world as well as their physical. More attention should be given on the emotional effect of childhood overweight and obesity in order to provide a more holistic care to this young population. While it cannot be underestimated that one should strive to decrease the prevalence of obesity, it is equally necessary to promote the psychosocial and emotional wellbeing of overweight individuals and ensures that they are not being ill-treated for being overweight. Effective prevention and management of childhood obesity is easier and may result in long-lasting well-being. These psychological issues coupled with unhealthy weight control and disordered eating behaviors are warnings of more severe disturbances later on in life.

Healthy Food For Kids
Child health, childhood obesity, Diabetes, Healthy Eating, junk food, Obesity, Overweight Children

How You Can Help Children Cope With Being Overweight

To be dealing with obesity, whilst living in a home with generations of overweight family members can be frowned upon and dauting. At times for many in the family,  it can be really tough to accept that children are overweight or obese. As according to a  recent survey, it should be no surprise to know, less than one percent of children meet the recommended dietary guidelines.

For overweight family members it may be normal to see their children putting on a little weight without comprehending how large and consequential issue this can be. All though it is never too late to make a lifestyle change, it is best to start of as early as possible to be able to wave off the detrimental effects of obesity. 

The best way to prepare or help children to lose weight  is to educate them. This is something that can best be managed by family and friends. Not only parents, even our society plays a vital role in coping up with a child’s obesity. The real change, however, does begin at home.

Here’s a list of a few things we can do to help these children.

Be a role model: Children learn by imitation. Parents being primary caregivers and inspirations play a impacting role in the life of their child. Therefore, you can start by teaching your child how to eat healthy by doing so yourself first. If as parents we strive to follow a  healthy life style, children will follow it much more naturally. If given the exposure, eventually they will start eating right.

Expose kids to healthy foods: If children have gotten into the habit of being offered junk food every time they demand it, they will only want to eat chips, cakes, biscuits and other processed food. Processed and junk food are addictive and having them can pose some serious problems moving forward. Instead we, as parents, need to expose them to colorful whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains like brown rice and nuts. Educate them on its goodness and health benefits so that children know what they are having and later tend to ask for them on their own. Research says that it takes around seven exposures before kids start eating healthy. So if they don’t like eating healthy initially, by the seventh time they will definitely be doing so. 

Change in environment and attitude: Implementing lifestyle changes for living healthy would be difficult when the environment and attitude towards being obese is negative. Such unhealthy attitudes towards obesity are not only seen outside but also in the home environment.

To change this rising trend of obesity, we need to change the environment. We can start with creating a positive environment at home for the children. While we need to make them aware of the need for maintaining good health, they also need to feel comfortable so as to share their fears and worries. A supportive environment where children are exposed to a healthy lifestyle becomes crucial. It is really all about focusing on being healthy rather than just focusing on losing weight. This way we can ensure that our children maintain their physical as well mental health.

Home cooking: Fill your refrigerator with healthy foods and not just junk food to resist temptation. Survey shows that home cooked meals plays the most important role in preventing obesity. Make sure that there is always a helping of salad at mealtimes. Parents can also teach children how to cook veggies get them interested in cooking healthy food at a young age. It is all about shifting their perspective to understand that healthy is also tasty.

Practice mindful eating: Children today, spend their time eating usually in front of the television and computer screens. Parents need to stop this habit of mindless eating in order to help their children feel more satisfied with their meals. It is important to sit down as a family and focus on what we are eating and be mindful of when our stomach is full. Mindful eating is all about ensuring that we are savoring every bite we eat. This starts with ensuring that there are no distractions at mealtimes.

Thus, a few changes such as these, made by families and friends, can have a great impact on a child’s over all well-being. Changes happen slowly, so be patient and remember to focus on health.

Childhood Obesity
Child health, childhood obesity, Healthy Eating, junk food, Obesity

How Can You Keep Your Child from Being Overweight/Obese

Parenting children today has proven to be more challenging than ever. A number of outside forces act as key influencers of unhealthy lifestyle development among children. Additionally, parents spend less time each day with their children as they work to meet the demands of societal expectations and a rapidly changing economy. These factors often combine to make an impressionable child thereby getting the parents to inculcate habits and patterns that can adversely affect the health of their child. It is the demand of the today’s age that parents and schools develop a strong partnership to help children maneuver the challenges of today’s world for their own success and well-being. Learning how to handle certain issues that might put your child on the path to obesity will give you the tools you need to help your child live a happy and fulfilled life.

Some initiatives that parents can take to keep their child from being overweight are:

Maintaining Healthy Relationships: Your relationship with your child requires quite a lot of energy. It is something that can take a lot of time and effort. The time you spend with your child is crucial. It is doubly important that children learn to trust their parent’s words, considering that parents are the first line of instruction. Children who trust their parents are healthier and excel in school too. Apart from dietary factors, this external factor plays a crucial role in any child’s obesity. A relationship where the parent can’t pay enough attention to the child can cause the child to find solace in food. Moreover, this can also promote feelings of low self-esteem and other unhealthy patterns. This makes it crucial for a child to have a healthy relationship with his or her parents.

Teach Restraint: According to a recent nationally representative survey, children from third through twelfth grade spend an estimated eight hours per day on a digital platform.  This can be using computers, listening to music, watching movies, playing computer and video games and watching television. Children are exposed to vast number of TV commercials for sodas, candies, fast food and other unhealthy food choices. This could explain the unprecedented spurt in the amount of junk food children eat today. At the same time, parents who just want to keep their kids from throwing tantrums exacerbate the situation by allowing their children unprecedented indulgences. Consequently, this leads children to develop little to no restraint which is instrumental in them becoming overweight or obese. Limiting access to technology and informing them about the harm of junk food can help reduce obesity.

Teach the Importance of Healthy Eating: The most important thing is teaching every child the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet. The best way of dealing with a child’s burgeoning weight is to turn them on to healthier dietary habits. Studies on dieting behaviors consistently report that the inducement of parents is the most significant factor in causing children to begin eating healthier. The direct verbal encouragement of the parents towards the child is as much or even more influential than the parents own dieting behaviors.

Encouraging Physical Activities: Involve the whole family in an active lifestyle, this can include walks in the park or bicycling in the neighborhood. This is also a great time to talk to children about what is occurring in their lives as well. Join them on walks, or when they are on the playground and use this time to talk to them if they are being teased because of their weight.  Communicate with them about their fears and problems. As we all know exercise is a way of coping with emotions as well as eating disorders. Parents should focus helping their children develop habits of healthy, regular physical exercise. It is essential to teach them the value of exercise and thus value themselves.

It is important that parents intervene in helping children lead healthy lives from the early stages of child development. Parents shape their children’s dietary practices, behavior and weight in many ways and this makes it crucial for them to play a more active role in helping their child shed excess weight.

Obesity Treatment, Weight Loss Program for kids
Child health, childhood obesity, Diabetes, Obesity

Risks Faced by Indian Children Because of Obesity

India, despite its status as a developing country, has found itself to be ranked second among the list of nations with the most number of obese children. Globally there are over 2 billion overweight and obese children and adults. More and more people are suffering from highly avoidable lifestyle issues cropping up because of their weight. The New England Medical Journal calls it ‘a growing and disturbing public health crisis’.

Obesity, also known as adiposity, is identified as an excess amount of body fat within the body. This, more often than not, is a consequence of lifestyle and dietary issues. Obesity comes with some serious consequences for both, children and adults alike. With children, however, things get more complicated. Obese children are not only at risk for a variety of physical ailments they also face some serious psychological issues.

Here are some of the major risks faced by obese children:

Diabetes:

Definitely one of the most insidious and dangerous among the diseases of the 21st century, diabetes is a disease afflicting more and more people. Children that are overweight or obese are more prone to this disease. A research by Kings College London found that childhood obesity is directly linked with increased chances of contracting type-2 diabetes later in life. The research states that obese children face a four-fold increase in their risk for contracting type-2 diabetes.

Metabolic Syndrome:

This is a condition that is sets the stage for a variety of problems. This includes diabetes, cardiovascular problems among many others. Metabolic syndrome allows for an increase in abnormal lipid profile, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, and many more. These problems, however, can be reversed by being careful about your diet and exercising regularly.

Heart Disease:

While it may seem hard to believe, early indication or atherosclerosis, or hardening of arteries, can begin during early childhood. This is the most common cause of heart disease and needs to be nipped in the bud right at the outset. This problem relates with high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and these are directly associated with poor eating habits and being overweight. The only way to reverse this is to ensure that the child’s diet and exercise habits are monitored and managed well.

Menstrual Problems:

Being overweight may cause girls to reach puberty earlier than is normal. Studies around the world have shown that the average age of hitting puberty have been falling around the world. It has also been found that girls that are overweight are at a higher risk of being diagnosed with uterine fibrosis or menstrual issues at a later stage in life.

Psychological Issues:

Being overweight or obese also comes with its own set of stigma. India has yet not been completely sensitized towards the scars body shaming can leave on a young mind. Many children that are overweight or obese are teased mercilessly and have been found to have hardly any social life. This can lead to serious trauma and dangerous behaviour patterns like depression.

There are a number of issues that can arise for a child dealing with obesity, and not the least of which are physical. It is important to understand that obesity and excess body fat can come with some serious repercussions. At Skooc we understand this and work towards sensitising parents and children towards these problems. It is only when we work on changing the habits of children is when we can actively curb this problem faced by the youth today.

BMI, Child health, childhood obesity, junk food, Obesity, Social Relations, Uncategorized

Identifying Childhood Obesity

The world, today, is grappling with a major health crisis. The percentage of overweight and obese children has been on the rise for decades now, and the problem, today, is worse than ever. WHO has termed this issue as an ‘exploding nightmare’.

The problem is even greater for a developing country like India. With a majority of the nation’s population under 35, it becomes more important than ever to nip the issue of obesity before it exacerbates further. Childhood obesity has been identified as a precursor to a number of serious physical ailments. These range from diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, depression, and even cancer. There are over 30 identified serious diseases that can be brought on because of obesity.

What is Obesity?

Obesity, or adiposity, is the deposit of excess body fat. Being overweight and obese are two separate issues. The common denominator among them both is the prevalence of excess body weight. Children often retain a certain amount of fat during their pre-teen years which aids their growth during the formative adolescent years. The question whether your child is overweight, obese or having normal weight, however, is something that is best judged by consulting an expert. There are a number of ways to measure if a child is overweight or obese.

How is Obesity Measured?

The most common method of measurement is calculating the BMI, or body mass index. The BMI is calculated using the height and weight of the child. There are also online calculators and tables available for people to calculate the child’s BMI themselves.

There are also a number of field methods, or rough estimates, to ascertain if the child is overweight or obese. These include waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, skinfold thickness, and bioelectrical impedance. These means of measurement are used in a number of clinics, community settings as well as research studies.

Obesity in children is measured in BMI-for-age percentiles. This method calculates your child’s weight category based on their age and BMI. The BMI, however, is calculated on the basis of the child’s weight and height. Children above the 85th percentile are considered to be overweight. Research has found that children who are in the 85th percentile, or higher, continue gaining weight with time, this however, is not true for children at less than the 50th percentile.

Managing the Condition

There are a number of ways that one can manage obesity, especially in growing children. The key towards managing it, however, lies in recalibrating the habits of the child. And this begins with the parents. The child picks up habits from the parents, and having parents that embrace a healthy lifestyle is essential to the child being healthy as well. This is one of the basic support functions that we provide at Skooc.

The key is in identifying the habits that might be promoting obesity. Things like spending too much time on video games or an addiction to sugary drinks and confectionaries, are things that need to be tempered and managed. The key, however, lies in identifying these patterns. Once identified, we work with the parents and the child to help them rework these patterns into healthier versions. Thus leading them towards managing their weight problem in a healthier fashion as opposed to surgical or medical intervention.