The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified obesity in children as one of the biggest threats to wellness. “The problem is global and is steadily affecting many low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban settings.” And if you look at the stats, you can see why: in 2013, there were 42 million obese children worldwide. This figure will almost double by 2025. That’s 70 million children who will battle cardiovascular diseases, insulin resistance and diabetes, cancer and disability – all as a result of being overweight. There’s hope. You – the exercise specialist – hold a powerful weapon in the fight against puppy fat. Here are some practical ways you can make a difference.
How to help prevent obesity in children
Chat to your clients about their children
Find out what your clients are doing to set a positive example for their children. If their children see them being physically active, they’re more likely to be active themselves. In so doing, they can avoid obesity in children.
Remind them that their kids should be getting at least 60 minutes of exercise a day. And this doesn’t have to take the form of sprints around the block: it can be helping out with chores, or silly games of “Simon Says”; perhaps even practising netball or soccer in the backyard. Says Robert Reames about the benefits of exercise with your kids: “Exercising with our kids provides us as parents with a fantastic opportunity. It establishes a great sense of camaraderie, companionship and a time for bonding. This is valuable time spent.”
Sitting at a desk all day doing homework might be good for academics, but it’s not doing their health any favours (plus, regular exercise is proven to help kids perform better at school). If it’s viable for you, as the personal trainer, suggest that they bring their kids along to your exercise sessions so they can see first-hand how enjoyable and beneficial exercise can be. Consider creating workouts that allow both the adults and their children to engage.
Kids LOVE to play. And if the play is very physically active, it’s a fabulous way to fend off obesity in children. Create obstacle courses, or develop whacky dance routines, whatever gets them on their feet.
Encourage a healthy appetite
Who wouldn’t have an appetite after clearing an obstacle course, right? Educate kids (and their parents) about the power of healthy food as a source of energy and wellness. Encourage them to indulge in all the good foods – fruit, veggies, whole grains and pulses, dairy and lean proteins.