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Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity

Childhood Obesity and Your Baby: What Can You Do to Prevent It?

Below we have a few tips which can be followed on a daily basis to help you try to prevent your children from becoming obese at a young age. Essential Baby Care Guide Experts, Melissa Little and Mandy Gurney offer their adviceÂ…Â…Â…Â….

Melissa Little

Melissa is a Paediatric Dietitian and Baby Nutrition Expert for the Essential Baby Care Guide

It might be surprising to discover that your child has roughly a one in five chance of becoming overweight or obese. As a result of extra weight, at least two out of ten children will be at risk of heart disease, diabetes, asthma and potentially, a whole host of other illnesses. Although some children might shed the extra pounds before they reach adulthood, the vast majority will end up carrying the extra weight and the complications entailed, for the rest of their lives. It is an issue we all need to target to prevent development from an early age.

Top tips for preventing the development of childhood obesity:
mum feeding baby
• Use your child's hand as a judge of portion sizes. As your child grows, their hand will grow as well and accordingly so should their portions. One portion of meat, carbohydrate or vegetables is a handful;
• Don't ignore your baby's natural fullness signals when bottle feeding, as you are then teaching them to ignore signs of fullness which can lead to problems of overeating for the rest of their lives;
• How you feed in the first year of life is crucial as it can have more impact on a person's health than any other life-stage;
• Instil healthy eating habits and an active-lifestyle from a very young age; ideally from birth.

Mandy Gurney

Mandy is a Director of the Millpond Sleep Clinic and Essential Baby Care Guide Sleep Expert

A lot of people might not realise there is a strong link between sleep deprivation and obesity; the less a child sleeps the more chance they have of being overweight with hormone imbalance and time spent eating rather than sleeping are thought to be the cause. A 2006 Canadian study found that children who slept less than 10 hours a night were 3.5 times more at risk of being overweight than those who slept 12 or more hours.

Top tips for helping your baby to get a good night's sleep, helping lower the risk of early-onset obesity:
• Ensure babies and children, even as old as ten, are tucked up in bed before 9pm. Getting a minimum of 10 hours sleep helps prevent the sleep deprivation that can cause the hormone imbalances that may lead to overeating and obesity;
child eating burger
• Regulate your baby's body clock with a regular sleep and waking routines. Taking your child outside during daylight hours will help them sleep better as bright daylight aids the production of the sleep hormone melatonin at night, promoting better sleep;
• Keep your baby's room dark and cool at night time. This will ensure a better production of melatonin and help them learn the difference between day and night;
• Implement a bedtime routine. This is vital to a baby's sleep pattern and it's a good idea to have a series of stages that you follow through, every night, in the same way. This should only take about half an hour from start to finish;
• Help your baby to fall asleep without inappropriate sleep associations such as being fed to sleep, rocked to sleep or anything else that your baby relies upon you to provide. This way, the baby will truly learn to fall asleep by themselves.

July 2012

For more information on avoiding childhood obesity, please visit www.essentialparent.com or visit www.facebook.com/essentialparent to see more Essential Baby Care Guide Videos.

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