Child already obese? Here's How To Overcome It

Obesity is also known as overweight or overweight. Fat children sometimes make people who see them irritated. It is oftentimes make parents feel they don't need to go to the doctor, even though obesity is also a form of malnutrition in addition to poor nutrition, lol, Father and Mother.

Obesity in children is increasing in number at this time. In Indonesia, almost 20% of children are obese. In developed countries, even more children are obese. Obesity in childhood has the potential to cause airway obstruction during sleep, also known as obesity obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS), characterized by snoring sleep. Other problems that are often encountered in children with obesity are disturbances in posture and bone development, skin disorders, psychosocial problems, or allergies. Obesity in childhood is also associated with obesity in adulthood, which has the potential to cause various diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Then, what if our child is already obese?

Treatment of obesity depends on age, child development, and severity. Given that children are still growing and developing, the principle of diet regulation in obese children is a diet with balanced nutrition according to the child's needs. In contrast to adults, the target for weight loss in obese children is very minimal, which is only 0.5-2 kg per month, or enough to be maintained so as not to increase, because the growth process is still ongoing.

The pediatrician will evaluate the cause of obesity, the child's nutritional status, the child's food intake and activities, and the presence or absence of diseases caused by obesity. Therapy (program) to overcome obesity can be started when the child (and parents) are ready to start. The principle of treating obesity in children in general is to regulate food intake and increase children's physical activity.

Regulating the Eating Intake of Obese Children

Consult a pediatrician or nutritionist to determine the appropriate food intake according to the ideal weight of the child, which will be assessed based on height. Teach children to recognize hunger and satiety. Children should be able to distinguish between hunger in the mouth (only want) and hunger in the stomach (indeed hungry), and advise them to only eat when they feel hungry in the stomach. After that, children must also learn to recognize the feeling of fullness, so they can stop eating even though they still want to. Mothers and fathers can role-play with their children with themes involving stomach sounds when hungry, as well as discomfort and bloating when overeating.

In addition to teaching children to recognize hunger and satiety, limiting calorie intake can be done by reducing fat and carbohydrate intake, and increasing fiber and water intake. WHO recommends a minimum of 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, accompanied by drinking enough water (drinks without taste / sugar). Here are some tips that Mom and Dad can apply to limit food intake in obese children:

  • Eat regularly three times per day with snacks cut fruit (not juice) 1-2 times per day. Cut fruit such as watermelon, melon, apple, or pear are useful for replacing sweet snacks (such as ice cream, chocolate, and candy). Avoid high-calorie fruits like manga or durian.
  • Children are only allowed to drink water between meals.
  • Limit the number of high-calorie foods, such as French fries, bread, pastries, ice cream, or fruit juices.
  • Do not eat while playing or watching television This habit will associate the feeling of pleasure that accompanies watching television or playing, with eating. So, if one day the child feels sad or stressed, he will entertain himself by eating.
  • Avoid giving food as a reward, or limiting food as a punishment.
  • Avoid giving ready-to-eat foodfast food) or sweet foods.
  • Limit milk intake to only 500 ml/day for children over 2 years old, and replace milk full cream with skim milk (low fat).
  • Get used to breakfast. Research shows that a high-protein breakfast can help with weight loss.

Increasing Physical Activity in Children with Obesity

To be able to increase children's activities, try starting with simple things, such as walking or cycling when going to school. Or if the school is too far away, Mother and Father can lower the child to a safe limit and let the child walk. In younger children, reduced carrying and use of a stroller (stroller) is also very useful. Obese children can also be involved in daily household chores.

Motivate obese children to do physical activity for one hour every day. School-age children (from the age of 6 years) can be introduced to sports such as cycling, swimming, dancing, karate, gymnastics, football or basketball. And usually, starting at the age of 10 years, children will prefer sports in the form of groups.

Reduce activities that are done sitting or lying down. But that does not mean reducing sleep time, because getting enough sleep actually protects you from obesity. Sitting or lying activities referred to here are watching television and activities withgadgets, because these activities are often carried out for hours every day. Therefore, limit the amount of screen time (watching TV or playing gadgets) to 2 hours a day for children over 2 years old and to a minimum for children under 2 years old.

Parents are encouraged to give encouragement and praise for the success or the slightest change in behavior shown by the child. For example, when the child wants to eat a new menu that is in accordance with the nutrition program from the doctor, when he wants to exercise, or when he manages to lose weight. Support from family and people around them is the most important thing in overcoming obesity in children, especially to change children's diet and daily lifestyle.

Written by:

dr. Fatimah Hidayati, Sp.A