Believe it or not, there are easy ways of implementing obesity prevention strategies into your existing lifestyle – and it’s never too late. In fact, in a previous post, Combating Obesity in 5 Easy Steps, we gave you five great ways to reach success with easy-to-follow obesity prevention strategies. What’s also important to understand is the vital role that both exercise and nutrition play in the lives of children too. In fact, studies have shown that from a very young age children mimic many adult actions – especially their nutritional ones. So learning about health and nutrition will provide a better seed to plant into your child’s future.
The key to preventing obesity risk factors from occurring in the future is to take aim at preventing obesity right from childhood. Creating a healthy lifestyle for children right from the start is the foremost obesity prevention strategy there is. Studies show that once we reach the age of 30, if we do not exercise and follow a healthy nutrition plan we begin losing 1 pound of muscle per year! This decline in muscle mass can lead to additional gains in fat mass in the body and further precipitate personal health decline in a variety of ways.
Body Perception: Top 3 Myths and Stigmas
There is often a disconnect between what some influential parts of society, such as the media, revere as “healthy” or “normal” and what really is. And this can have an astounding negative effect on a young person’s body image. Compounding the situation is the range of myths and stigmas around such topics as identifying a healthy appearance among different body types, muscle vs. fat, and bone mass.
First, different body types display body mass (bone mass, muscle mass, fat mass) differently. That’s why a person with a slim build may not be more fit or healthy than a person of a different or bigger body type. The reason is that the person with the slim build may have a higher fat mass ratio to lean muscle ratio than is appropriate for their body type.
Next, MUSCLE IS MUSCLE AND FAT IS FAT! If you cease to exercise or do some form of resistance training your muscle mass will decline, but it does not turn to fat! They are both completely different.
And finally, having larger bone mass does not mean you are destined to be overweight. Don’t be fooled. Your genetic make-up plays a major role in how your body will display your body mass – slim or not, fit or not. So, it is best to live a fit and healthy lifestyle no matter your body type.
Research: Muscle Loss Can Lead to Fat Gain …and Depression
Studies have shown that lack of muscle and strength leads to a faster loss of endurance and coordination. Research has also shown that a lack of muscle mass greatly hinders a body’s ability to regulate metabolism, and in turn weight gain creeps up over time. Weight gain occurs because muscle actually burns many calories on a daily basis to keep it strong and functioning. If children lead a more sedentary lifestyle, as they get older their body doesn’t have the need to remain strong, so muscle size and strength decrease. Add unbalanced nutrition into the mix and the situation is compounded. In short, low muscle mass hinders the body’s ability to effectively burn calories, resulting in a rise in fat mass.
There is an additional obesity risk factor that impacts an obese child – emotional fallout. When children become obese it becomes extremely difficult for them to interact with their peers, insecurity creeps in, they experience feelings of low self-worth, and they begin to withdraw from social interaction and personal relationships.
Childhood Obesity Prevention Tips for Parents
With parents as the initial source of teaching children about issues concerning overweight and obesity, passing the right torch early on can prevent obesity from occurring in children later in life.
1. Take an educated approach. Children grow in unpredictable spurts making assessing obesity in children difficult. Parents should not make changes to a child’s diet based solely on perceptions of overweight, but rather seek the guidance of a health care professional. This will ensure a proper measurement using the child’s height and weight relative to previous growth history.
2. Proper body weight assessment. Since young children’s bodies are continuously growing and developing, weight loss is not a good approach. Moreover, overweight children should not be put on a restrictive diet as it diet may not supply the energy and nutrients needed for normal growth and development. The exception would be if it’s recommended and supervised by a physician for medical reasons. For most, the focus should be to maintain current weight, while the child grows normally in height.
3. The basic rules always apply. The most important strategies for preventing obesity are healthy eating behaviors, regular physical activity, and reduced sedentary activity
Promote a healthy lifestyle. Take aim at childhood obesity by providing healthy meals and snacks, daily physical activity, nutrition education, and a focus on family. Healthy meals and snacks provide nutrition for growing bodies while instituting healthy eating behaviors and attitudes. Increased physical activity reduces health risks and aids weight management. Nutrition education helps young children develop an awareness of good nutrition and healthy eating habits for a lifetime. A strong family unit will provide confidence and motivation and allows for focus and attention on given tasks, as well as a positive outlook towards personal relationships with family and peers.
Whether dealing with, or avoiding obesity risk factors, it’s never too late to take control and help guide children toward a healthy and prosperous life for a healthy future!
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