Obesity in children and teenage Mexicans
Obesity has grown so fast worldwide that in just 30 years it is now considered a global public health issue. It is estimated that on 2020 half the diseases that affect the population will be diet related. Excess body volume it’s not exclusively an adult’s problem. Mexico heads the world statistics in child obesity; having obesity has a higher risk on premature deaths, diminishes life quality and increases health costs.
When a child or adolescent has obesity and has parents with excess of weight, the probabilities of staying obese until an adult stage are high, up to 70% in teenagers from 10-13 years old! Children from overweight mothers are the one who have a higher risk of being obese. Nowadays in Mexico, it is estimated that, approximately, a 20% of children are obese.
To avoid excess weight it is necessary to modify certain things, without pretending to be simple and with the intention of having a starting point, these are some initial actions:
- The mothers must recognize that they are responsible for their child’s health, since the conception. The phrase “eating for two” is obsolete and unhealthy, most specially when most Mexican mothers are overweight and their nutrition status is poor; during this crucial phase the main focus must be on the food quality and not quantity.
- A food criterion is learned in the family. Organizing family dinner’s, starting from going to the supermarket till its preparation, and eating together at established hours; it allows to build good habits that will stick throughout their life and also improve all family members nutrition. These action help avoid fast food and have knowledge on the control of portions compared to commercial, fast and/or processed food that have sugar, salt and excess or hidden fat.
- Increase physical activity and exercise. The objective is to walk 10,000 steps a day, watch TV a maximum of 1 hour and establish a daily exercise routine of 150 min per week.
When the child and adolescent environment changes, weight and health state changes too. If the family dynamic has clear strategies directed to improve health and are congruent among all members, either they live together or not, teenagers will have a better chance to control their weight.