6 Surprising Actions You Can Take to Keep Your Child From Becoming Obese
When someone is obese, people automatically tend to blame lack of adequate exercise along with their dietary choices. While there can be no doubt that diet and exercise play a prominent role in a person’s body weight, these are not the only factors that have an influence. New scientific research is uncovering surprising causative factors for obesity other than the usual culprits of diet and exercise.
Researchers are discovering that conditions during a woman’s pregnancy can have an effect on whether her child will have a tendency towards becoming overweight or obese later in life. Since childhood obesity is a growing global problem, it is important for women to become aware of these discoveries so they can be proactive about keeping their children from gaining excessive weight. Here are 6 actions you can take to reduce the likelihood that your child will become obese.
1. Avoid Exposure to Chemical Pollutants While You Are Pregnant
Emerging scientific research reveals that prenatal exposure to some environmental pollutants causes an increased incidence of obesity in babies and young children. Researchers specifically studied the effects of dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), a pesticide; polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), a type of man-made manufactured chemical; and hexachlorobenzene (HCB), a fungicide.
These particular pollutants are all endocrine disruptors. When you are pregnant, you can make an effort to avoid exposure to endocrine disruptors by eating an organic diet, avoiding consumption of canned foods and being careful about the ingredients in the cleaning and skincare products you use.
2. Breastfeed Your Child for as Long as Possible
Breast milk is the best food you could feed your child. There are a number of reasons breastfeeding is recommended. One is that your breast milk is one of the most important sources of beneficial microorganisms for your child. These beneficial microorganisms will colonize your child’s intestinal tract, aiding his digestion, supporting his immune system and carrying out a multitude of important functions in his body.
New research has revealed that the presence of certain beneficial intestinal microorganisms, known as Bacteroidetes, is correlated with thin physiques. A different type of microorganism, known as Firmicutes, is correlated with obesity. The researchers also discovered that the breast-fed children they studied had lower numbers of Firmicutes and higher numbers of Bacteroidetes; the formula-fed children had higher numbers of Firmicutes and lower numbers of Bacterioidetes. These fascinating discoveries reveal to us that there are some important connections between a child’s formative diet and resulting levels of leanness or obesity.
It is possible to continue breastfeeding your child well beyond the time when the child has begun eating solids. If you are willing and able to continue breastfeeding, your breast milk will continue to nourish your little one with beneficial microorganisms as long as you do so.
3. Avoid Giving Your Child Unnecessary Antibiotics
If you give your child antibiotics, the antibiotics are likely to kill all or most of the microorganisms in his digestive tract. While this is beneficial for killing any microorganisms that are responsible for making him sick, it also unfortunately has the effect of killing off the beneficial microorganisms that he needs for healthy digestion.
4. Ensure Your Child’s Diet Includes Healthy Probiotic Foods
Your child should not begin eating solid foods until s/he is at least 6 months old. When your child’s teeth are well developed enough to allow for comfortably chewing solid foods, you can begin introducing healthy probiotic foods into his or her diet. This is important because these foods can help to maintain the populations of beneficial microbes in your child’s gut, which in turn can help to prevent obesity. Scientific studies have determined that obesity is correlated with lower diversity levels of beneficial probiotic microorganisms in the intestinal tract.
Some good probiotic foods include organic yogurt and homemade pickles.
5. Make Sure Your Child Gets Enough Sleep
Multiple studies have demonstrated that not getting adequate sleep can increase the risk of obesity in adults. It is likely that lack of sleep is similarly problematic for children; so be sure your child takes age-appropriate naps and has a regular bedtime schedule to ensure the best possible chances of getting adequate sleep.
6. Consult a Dietitian When Necessary
If your child is gaining excessive weight despite eating a healthy diet, getting adequate exercise and sleeping well, a dietitian’s services may be beneficial for correcting the situation. A dietitian can recommend meal plans, probiotics and dietary supplements that will be helpful given your child’s unique situation and nutritional needs.
There are instances where dietitians’ services might be partially covered by Medicare; in Australia, you’ll typically need a referral from your general practitioner to receive Medicare funds to cover a dietitian’s services. Some private health insurance funds give you the option to see a dietitian as part of their extras cover policies.
These are 6 important actions you can take to reduce the likelihood that your child will become obese. If some of these actions have come as a surprise to you, you are not alone; most mothers are not aware that pollutants, antibiotics, intestinal microorganisms or lack of sleep could have any effect on their child’s weight. Now that you’re aware of these things, you’re better equipped to help your child maintain a healthy weight as s/he grows up.