Did you know that 20% of South African children are either overweight or obese? This shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially if you take into account that one in three children eat fast food as many as three times per week.
“We are seeing more and more cases of hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes in young children and adults,” says Heart and Stroke Foundation CEO, Dr Vash Mungal-Singh.
This is very concerning as childhood obesity can lead to heart disease later in life. Nearly 200 people a day die of cardiovascular disease and about 33 people because of a heart attack.
Heart disease can be prevented, but it should begin in childhood when eating habits and physical activity patterns are laid down.
If your little one’s weight is increasing at a rapid rate, don’t despair. Childhood obesity can be prevented by teaching children healthy eating habits from a very young age.
Tips to overcome obesity
- If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, consult your GP, who might refer you to a registered dietician.
- Unlike adults, overweight children shouldn’t be put on a restricted diet. Children are still growing and it’s important that they eat a balanced, varied diet that provides adequate energy and protein as well as essential nutrients such as calcium and iron.
- Instead of making radical changes immediately, start adopting a-term approach to healthy eating and implement changes gradually.
- Ensure that your child’s weight is balanced against their increasing height.
- It’s far better to adopt a healthier eating plan rather than cutting down the amount of food offered.
- A child should feel loved and not judged- focus on health rather than appearance. Overweight children are usually aware that they’re heavier than their peers. Attacking the weight itself could push a child to turn even more to food as an emotional substance.
How healthy is your heart?
September 2013 is Heart Awareness Month. The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa will be offering free heart health screenings in conjunction with Clicks pharmacies during the month of September. The screening includes a blood cholesterol, blood glucose, blood pressure and body mass index test.
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