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7 practices parents should avoid to prevent child obesity

By avoiding these common pitfalls, parents can significantly influence their children's health outcomes

An AI image of an obese baby

Childhood obesity is a growing concern worldwide, posing significant health risks for children, including the potential for chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular conditions later in life.

As parents play a pivotal role in shaping their children's lifestyle and eating habits, it is crucial to be aware of practices that can inadvertently contribute to obesity.

Here are several key behaviors parents should avoid to help prevent obesity in their children.

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One of the most common pitfalls is overfeeding. Many parents encourage children to finish everything on their plate, regardless of their hunger cues.

This practice can lead to overeating and an inability to regulate food intake based on hunger and fullness.

Instead, parents should offer age-appropriate portions and teach children to listen to their bodies, eating when they are hungry and stopping when they are full.

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In today's fast-paced world, the convenience of processed and fast foods often wins over preparing fresh meals.

However, these foods are typically high in calories, sugars, unhealthy fats, and sodium, contributing significantly to weight gain.

Parents should prioritise home-cooked meals made from whole foods, including plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Using food as a tool for reward or punishment can create an unhealthy relationship with food.

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Rewarding children with sweets or junk food can lead to emotional eating and a preference for unhealthy foods. Similarly, punishing or restricting food can make it more desirable, leading to overeating when it is available.

It’s better to reward children with non-food items or activities and to address behaviour without involving food.

A sedentary lifestyle is a significant factor in childhood obesity. Excessive screen time, whether through TV, computers, or mobile devices, reduces the time spent on physical activities.

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Parents should encourage regular physical activities such as outdoor play, sports, or family walks. Limiting screen time and promoting active play is essential for maintaining a healthy weight.

Children often mimic their parents' behaviours. If parents lead a sedentary lifestyle, consume unhealthy foods, or skip meals, children are likely to adopt these habits.

Parents should strive to be good role models by engaging in regular physical activity and making healthy food choices. Demonstrating a balanced lifestyle will encourage children to follow suit.

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Skipping meals, especially breakfast, can lead to overeating later in the day. Breakfast kick-starts metabolism and provides energy for the day ahead, making it a crucial meal.

Ensuring children have a nutritious breakfast and eat regular, balanced meals throughout the day helps maintain a steady metabolism and prevent unhealthy snacking.

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A high-stress environment can lead to emotional eating and weight gain in children.

Parents should foster a supportive and stress-free environment, teaching children healthy ways to cope with stress, such as through physical activity, hobbies, or talking about their feelings.

This content was generated by an AI model and verified by the author.

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