Child Obesity: Is your child overweight?

Does he/she

  1. Reluctant to enter into social relationships?
  2. Seems unusually quiet, withdrawn and angry (at times)?
  3. Have very few friends?
  4. Avoids going to school or playground?
  5. Prefers to stay indoors?

If yes, then your child must be a victim of emotional, psychological and social distress due to being overweight. Research indicates that obese children are at increased risk of suffering from emotional problems as compared to those with normal weight. Low self-esteem and other psycho-social aspects associated with obesity are a major health concern which should be addressed along with physical treatment.

Our societal mindset is such that being obese is considered to be a stigma and overweight individuals are marginalized by others.  Do you know overweight children are constantly teased by their peers? They are stereotyped as unhealthy and lazy by educators and even by parents sometimes. When this happens, children feel bad about their physical body and appearance. They show higher rates of loneliness, sadness and nervousness, and are more likely to smoke and drink alcohol. Experts also reveal that obesity among children and adolescents is related to depression and anxiety.

How you can help your children overcome low self-esteem and other psycho-social problems associated with obesity?

  1. Help them understand that being overweight is not a permanent state and they can work towards reducing weight.
  2. Don’t humiliate by making fun of their excess weight or reprimanding them.
  3. Speak to them so they can identify their feelings and express them freely.
  4. Help them devise a weight loss plan that includes exercise regime, diet plan and coping strategies.
  5. Be available to listen to their challenges and lend a helping hand wherever possible.
  6. Encourage them to overcome tough situations.
  7. Guide them about how to make smart and healthy food choices when they are hungry.
  8. Don’t use food as a means to reward or punish.
  9. Adopt an active and healthy lifestyle yourself. Remember ‘practice what you preach.’
  10. Praise their achievements and strengths.
  11. Express your unconditional love to them
  12. Be sensitive to their needs.
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