Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Kid and Teen Obesity: a word for parents

Today I had the pleasure of seeing this vibrant young 13-year-old boy whose mother had sent him for excessive weight gain.

I would like to share my experience how today’s teens are facing Obesity related issues and why are we parents not able to do much about this.

This boy is in 8th grade has 2-3 tuitions daily, not much sports as he has now become lazy and overweight. He feels best when he is at home on his bed.
When I saw him, his only concern was the tuitions and how he feels overburdened by this issue. I can’t take those decisions for parents but instilling good exercise at early age is very important. A fit body will have a faster mind. I understand that there is lot of academic pressure but if your child has poor health we totally lose all battles.

He also shared how he is so bored with same food at home, so loves to order food when mom is not around.
I had an hour-long discussion, I am no psychiatrist but large part of my obesity practice is counseling patients.
Most people know that eating right and exercising is the right solution. But are we provided with those solutions? It’s easy to make a diet chart and send a patient home, but when they go home they are struggling again.

When I realized that this kid was fond of food I immediately noted down his likes and dislikes and provided him with replacements of whatever foods he loved.
Kids love pastas and noodles and chips etc. They can be easily incorporated into their diets in a healthy way. Mother or caretaker has to be counseled about the changes and then it’s easy and breezy,
Parents can’t be friends but doctors can be. Not appreciating a kid and just loading them with criticism and comparisons is not going to solve anything. Even unknowingly parents put that pressure on kids. Whether it’s a sibling comparison or a peer comparison, it is mentally very stressing for kids.
We as parents are the ones who will instill high self-esteem in our kids.
First we should identify why a teenager is not listening to you. Hormonal changes in these kids are tremendous as they start teens, valuing their efforts is utmost important.

So as we progressed into the eating habits the boy was surprised that I am allowing him to eat pasta, chips and pizza.
But I also stressed that importance of getting vegetables,fruits and salads also if you are in that bargain. This boy went to school at 6 am so no time for breakfast!!! He only had a glass of milk and left for school, how will his brain work, and why didn’t we use the morning fat burning hormones? His next meal would be at 11:30 am that means this kid has been studying for 5 housrs before he ate any energy releasing foods. Shocking as it sounds I felt so sad at hearing this, my heart went out for this kid.
Some parents stop all so called villain foods when they see a child gaining weight and happen more so when they come back from a pediatrician visits.
That weight boggles the parents and same day all butter cheese and fries and chips are taken away.
That is not the way, you take some you give some.

You have to allow these young people to make healthy choices. Teaching them at schools about nutrition is also very important. If we load kids with sugar daily, the will have sugar cravings. Simple Sugar is the single most enemy. Sugar is present mostly in everything we eat. There is no need for kids to have simple sugars like table sugar especially in milk or yogurt, they already have lactose. Sugar eating is a habit and its slow process to bring that craving down. Feeding fibrous vegetable, whole/complex carbohydrates will take away the urge to have sugar because body already has sugar.
Sometimes desserts can be given, as it’s impossible to tell your kid not to eat ice cream when there is so much visual stimulation for such foods all around.
So my advice to parents is to seek proper help if your kid is facing such issues. Let a professional take care of them to start with and then as they grow they will understand.