Sunday, September 24th, 2017

Preventing Obesity in Children (& adults)


Childhood obesity is becoming a real problem across the globe. Experts believe that if we don’t do something drastic to halt the escalation of childhood obesity this latest generation of children will experience significant health problems and have a significantly reduced life expectancy.

Prevention of weight gain must start with children commencing at birth. Guidelines put forward by Davis, et al  ((Davis MM, Gance-Cleveland B, Hassink S, Johnson R, Paradis G, Resnicow G. Recommendations for prevention of childhood obesity. Pediatrics.2007; 120(suppl 4) :228 –252.)), could well apply to adults, so if you are reading this blog, you can apply it to yourself as much as your children.

Davis et al (2007)  ((refer to note 1)) put forward the following extra guidelines based on research evidence:

1. limit consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (consistent evidence). See the DietPsyche blog on the link between softdrink and mental health issues for further information on how bad soft drink is for your health.

2. encourage recommended serve sizes for fruit and vegetables which in the USA and Australia is 9 serves per day, normally 2 fruit and 5 vegetables (mixed evidence)

3. after 2 years of age limit television and other screen time to a maximum of 2 hours daily combined daily, and remove screens of all types from children’s rooms (consistent evidence). Prior to 2 years, do not encourage television.

4. eat breakfast daily (consistent evidence)

5. limit eating out at restaurants, particularly those serving large portions and particularly fast food facilities (consistent evidence).

6. eat with the family (consistent evidence), or others. Family meals have been shown to be of a higher nutrient quality, have psychosocial benefits and are associated with lower obesity prevalence.

7. limit portion sizes (consistent evidence)

Available data also suggests the following guidelines ((Barlow, S. E. (2007. Expert committee recommendatiosn regarding the prevention, assessment, and treatment of child and adolescent overweight and obesity: Summary and Report. Pediatrics, 120, S164 – S192. DOI:10.1542/2329C)):

1. eat a diet rich in calcium

2. eat a diet high in fibre

3. eat a diet balanced in the macronutrients, protein, fat and carbohydrate

4. encourage breastfeeding

5. promote moderate to vigrorous physical activity for at least 60 minutes daily

6. limit consumption of energy dense foods

Other possible prevention strategies

1. have your doctor plot your child’s BMI (body mass index) at visits so he can monitor your child’s weight and alert you to any problems

2. use numerical acronyms like 9210 to encourage your children to comply with healthy behaviours: 9 (9 serves of fruit and vegetables daily), 2 (2hrs only in front of a screen per day), 1 (hour of exercise daily), 0 (no sweet beverages)

3. watch your own weight, remember you are a role model, so role model healthy eating and exercise behaviours to your children

4. only keep healthy foods at home – out of sight, out of mind!

Please share any other strategies you may have.

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