How To Prevent And Treat Childhood Obesity - Medshield Movement

How To Prevent And Treat Childhood Obesity

Concerned about your little one’s weight? Is your teen struggling with obesity and related health issues? Here, we help you understand more about what obesity is and how to prevent and treat childhood obesity. 

The state of childhood obesity today

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that from 1975 to 2016, the prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents increased more than four-fold from 4% to 18% globally.

Childhood obesity is expected to increase by 60% over the next decade, according to WorldObesityDay.org. Studies have found that without intervention, children and adolescents with obesity will likely continue to be obese into adulthood. 

The impact of obesity on children

Childhood obesity undermines the physical, social and psychological well-being of children and is a known risk factor for adult obesity and noncommunicable diseases, says the UNESCO Health And Education Resource Centre.  

Obesity in children can profoundly affect childrens’ emotional well-being and self-esteem and it is associated with poor academic performance and a lower quality of life, says WorldObesityDay.org. 

And it is preventable. 

Steps to preventing obesity in children

In 2026, the WHO launched a “Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity” with six key areas of recommendation. Here, we have a summarised look at each of these. 

  1. Promotion of intake of healthy foods – education and awareness around healthy eating; sugar tax and reduced marketing on unhealthy foods and increased access to fresh foods.
  2. Promotion of physical activity – parents, teachers and carers need to encourage more physical activity and governments should provide adequate facilities.
  3. Preconception and Pregnancy Care – promotion of healthy diet and habits before, during and after pregnancy for both mother and father. 
  4. Early childhood diet and physical activity – breastfeeding for the first six months; foods introduced to a child after breastfeeding need to be low in sugar, salt and fat; physical activity needs to be a part of a child’s daily routine.
  5. Health, nutrition and physical activity for school-age children – schools need to offer a healthy environment for children, offering healthy meals, snacks and fresh water as well as educating and promoting healthy habits. 
  6. Weight management – weight-management services should be family-based and need to include nutrition, physical activity and psychosocial components. 

What does this mean practically for you as a parent? The first years of a child’s life are critical to developing good-eating and physical-activity habits, which can help reduce the risk of developing obesity later in life. 

The WHO recommends that children have at least 60 minutes of daily exercise. Is your child getting that? Have a look at your child’s daily food intake – are they getting the appropriate nutrition they need? 

Finally, a child’s choices are shaped by their surrounding community and environment. Creating a healthy environment for your child can help prevent obesity. Contact your medical doctor for expert advice and a tailor-made programme to help your child’s individual needs. 

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