An obese teenager probably began to practice the behaviour that has caused the weight problem from earlier childhood. For this reason if we want to prevent obesity occurring during adolescence, it is imperative to monitor the eating and exercise habits that younger children are forming. From an early age you can instil in your child a way of life that will serve him well for the future.
Tackling Obesity by Example
Most healthy, balanced children grow up in a healthy balanced home. We should do our best to create a home environment that will encourage children to lead healthy lifestyles. This means that as parents we ourselves should demonstrate healthy living to our children by leading healthy lifestyles ourselves. Children love to go out and play with their parents. If you jog then your offspring will enjoy accompanying you on a Sunday morning. If you take up tennis you’ll always find a partner in your child. Conversely, if you spend hours in front of soap operas on TV, your child is most likely to be glued to cartoons on another channel or hidden in his room with a computer game (and possibly a stash of his favourite candy in addition). Not only is everyone less physically fit, these low energy activities provide less opportunity for family interaction and cohesion.
Children generally eat what their parents eat. Many parents don’t understand this and adopt a diet they think their children want to eat. It is not unusual for parents to be consuming a diet of fries and pizza simply because they have children. If parents stick to a healthy, life promoting diet, their children will grow accustomed to such food from the outset. Parents should encourage their children to enjoy high energy activities. It is not too difficult in most modern cities to enrol children on extra curricular dance or martial arts classes for example. Children soon begin to consider such activities as a normal part of their weekly routine.
When you next book your summer vacation, why not avoid those where the main focus is to lounge on the beach and be pampered in luxury hotels. Instead, look for healthier alternatives like hiking holidays, canoeing and water sports or cycling. If you are on a typical package holiday, try to spend as much time as you can away from the hotel. Find places of interest that can be walked around like old ruins or quaint villages. Rather than just sunbathing on a beach, find locations with exciting coastlines that can be explored.
Sometimes, the problem has occurred already and your teen may be facing a weight problem. It is then the job of the parent to help the child actively pursue a weight loss program. It is often useful to empathise with your teen and show him or her that you remember life at high school yourself. Share anecdotes from you own school life which children usually find highly amusing and at the same time they get to see that you truly know the difficulties they might be facing right now at school. Remind your child that it is not ‘cool’ to over do fast food and that those who look after themselves end up being much more attractive to others. Many young people today are identified with celebrity culture. You can research some well known personalities who take their health seriously for your child to admire and emulate.
Many young people secretly fear that no amount of dieting will work and if they are overweight it is their own fault. Explain to the child that the factors in society in general that cause these problems and let them know they are not alone. Above all, explain to them that it is absolutely possible for them to take control of the situation. Assure your teen that healthy eating and exercise will definitely make a difference and their efforts will not be in vain. When they are convinced that a healthy body is something that is by all means achievable, you will be surprised to see the motivation for change coming from within the teens themselves.