Overlooked, underestimated, untreated obesity in
children is one of the main causes of type 2
diabetes in children and heart disease in adults.
parents fight so hard to keep our children healthy;
when they are ill we take them to the doctor. We
are equally responsible to our children, for their
immediate and future well being.
Why are children getting type 2 diabetes?
is a direct link between child obesity and the onset
of type 2 diabetes. In some cases genetics or
ethnic factors might be the cause; however type 2
diabetes is most often caused by irregular eating
habits, and large portions of food with low
nutritional value and a lack of exercise.
Why are children obese?
of South African children between the ages of 1-9
years of age are overweight. Childhood obesity is
linked primarily to unhealthy eating habits, and
also to the fact that children today are a lot less
active than in the past. At the same time as many
as 19% of children are stunted because of the
insufficient food intake. To prevent type 2
diabetes in children and heart disease in adults, we
should implement a healthy lifestyle in our children
from a young age. It is much easier to change bad
habits and get into a good routine when young,
rather than waiting until these habits have become
too ingrained. In short our children need to eat
regular, balanced, healthy meals. As well as
leading more active lifestyles.
parent, what can you do?
the example. It is necessary for the whole family
to look at their lifestyle and make the appropriate
changes. The initial goal of treatment for children
should be to reduce the rate of weight gain with
continued growth so that the desired change in
weight for height is reached. A multilevel approach
would involve a balanced diet, together with an
increase in activity as well as psychological
support and behavioural changes.
Children should not only increase their physical
activity, but should also decrease the time they
spend on sedentary activities such as watching
television and playing computer games. Children as
young as 1 year need to be active. Children over 5
years old should be moderately active for at least
30 minutes every day and do at least 30 minutes of
vigorous physical activities at least 3-4 times a
week. This doesn’t mean they have to join a gym -
think creatively, and play soccer with them for only
30 minutes when you get home from work. Have races
in your back yard. In summer swim with your
children. Often the reason our children sit in
front of the TV or PC is because they need
stimulation. Yes, time to play alone is important,
but equally important is the time we spend with our
kids being active.
Children should eat at least three times per day and
have snacks in between, depending on their appetite
and activity level.
of food should be included in the diet, from all
5 food groups
To get a
good start to the day breakfast is vital.
portion size – amount of food and calories
Do not use
food as a reward
your child eats at school
unhealthy snacks and encourage the intake of
fruits and vegetables
together as a family
food from all food groups
healthy and realistic goal weight
activity – increase activity and play, less TV,
internet & video games
Children should not snack on nutrient poor foods
eg: chips, chocolates, sweets etc.
Rather they should have healthy snacks such as
yoghurt, fresh fruit, dried fruit etc.
encourage children to choose the healthier option,
always keep a variety of healthy foods in stock and
set a good example by eating healthy yourself.