It may surprise you to find out that according to the World Health Organization, there are about 45 million obese children across the globe, though the statistic may be more unsettling because an estimated 35 million of these individuals are from developing countries. It may be difficult to determine whether a child may be obese or not, because as we know, kids grow at different rates. Factor in genetics, spurts and body fat, the only reliable way to conclude obesity is through diagnosis from your pediatrician.
It may seem trivial, as you find yourself thinking that a chubby child will eventually “grow out of it”, but it may startle some to know that overweight and obese children will most likely become large adults, and the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, among other complications are greater. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an obese child is more likely to develop not just physical conditions very early in life (sore joints, high blood pressure) but are also prone to becoming depressed, develop low self esteem and are more likely to have eating disorders and substance abuse issues in their teens.
The World Health organization declares that obesity is highly preventable and recommends at least 60 minutes of light to vigorous exercise each day, more if the child is managing weight. Also, avoiding saturated fats and excess sugar as well as adding vegetables and whole grains to the diet are facts recognized by most parents, yet seldom applied. Many parents acknowledge the benefits of exercise, so emphasis on encouraging a child to love fitness is crucial to optimal development. And though you can’t enroll your two year old in a mixed martial arts class just yet, there are incalculable alternatives. You just might be surprised.
Drew Andrada, father of four fit children, a champion bodybuilder with fifteen years of personal training on his belt (as well as life support, specialized training for children and older adults) comments that:
“The best exercise for kids is to get moving. Develop some fun fitness ideas for kids. We're not talking about body building or abandoning them to the treadmill for a half hour each day. If it's not fun, they won't do it. But, we can't put our kids in front of the computer, television, and PlayStation for entertainment and then scratch our heads wondering how they became overweight.”
Click here to read more about the benefits of early physical fitness.