Recent research into the Qatar population by World Health Organization (WHO) has revealed that 36.5 per cent of adolescent boys and 23.6 per cent of adolescent girls are now classed as being overweight or obese, and nearly one-third of children under five were classified as overweight (1).
Childhood and adolescent obesity has been identified as a risk factor for obesity in adulthood, and can lead to an increase in the risk of developing serious health conditions such as Coronary Heart Disease (CHD), diabetes and certain cancers in adulthood. Government initiatives are now taking place to target health promotion in schools, reduce fast-food consumption, enhance physical activity and improve nutritional intake to try and help reduce overweight and obesity rates (2).
To help prevent your child from becoming overweight or obese, parents and other caregivers can play an important role in helping children build healthy eating and physical activity habits that will last a lifetime.
Here are some tips to help your child develop healthy lifestyle habits:
- Be a positive role model. Children mimic what they see. Choose healthy foods and active pastimes and include the whole family.
- Buy and serve more fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, canned, or dried). Let your child choose them at the store. Use a new fruit to make smoothies.
- Limit eating to specific meal and snack times. At other times, the kitchen is ‘closed’.
- Avoid large portions. Start with small servings and let your child ask for more if he or she is still hungry.
- Kids need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day. Several short 10- or even 5-minute periods of activity throughout the day are just as good.
- Assign active chores such as making the beds, sweeping/raking or vacuuming to the whole family.
- Plan active outings such as a walk through a local park.
- Encourage your child to join a sports team or class.
- Limit TV/video games time to two hours per day max. (3)
Dietitians can help with advice in this area if you need more information.
1 Fraser Chanpong G, Qatar World Health Survey – Highlights, WHO Qatar Primary Health Care Conference, The Foundation of Health and Wellbeing, 2008 Nov 2, Doha, Qatar.
2 Selmi S, Daghash G, Mathis S, Nahas K, Wilbur K, A program for obese youth at-risk for diabetes in Qatar, Avicenna 2015:2. Accessed online on 20/08/15 at http://dx.doi.org/10.5339/avi.2015.2
3 The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), Weight control and healthy living, Accessed online on 20/08/15 at http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/weight-control/helping-overweight-child/Pages/helping-your-overweight-child.aspx