Childhood obesity has become a prevalent health problem around the world. The consequences are seen in osteoarthritic problems, daytime sleepiness, decline in school performance, and a decrease in personal image and self-esteem. Obesity also increases the risk to develop chronic diseases in adulthood.
Unhealthy diets are common among children. In Europe for instance, 9% of the children skip breakfast, while 21% do not regularly consume fruit or vegetables, and 43% frequently drink sugary drinks.
Sedentary lifestyle is also a major concern. About 16% of children play sports a mere one an hour a week, while 36% watch TV and / or play video games more than 2 hours a day. Besides encouraging a sedentary lifestyle, television viewing exposes children to marketing for junk foods and unhealthy beverages.
The good news is that overweight and obesity can be prevented and body weight improved through simple lifestyle changes. Dietary changes should include providing children with three moderate meals, where fruits and vegetables are presented in varied preparations. Whole grain products and legumes should be preferred to refined cereals and white bread. In addition, simple sugars should be avoided. Children should not be rewarded with high calorie snacks and sugary drinks.
Regular physical activity and adequate sleep are also central to a good weight management for children.
Ennio Battista, Director of the Life & Health Review