Parental Education in Preventing Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity persists in being crucial public health issue. The majority of children in the US are struggling with overweight and obesity, yet parents remain vital to creating a home surrounding that enhances their children’s healthful physical activity and eating habits (Moore et al., 2017). Parents are expected to determine their young ones’ diet, and ultimately impact their weight status. There are several ways by which parents can alter the course of unhealthy weight gain among children. Most important is primary prevention that aims at educating the young ones about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. This paper seeks to discuss how parental education helps prevent and cure childhood obesity by emphasizing the essential nature of the role that the family plays in their children’s lives.
As the primary supervisors of children’s behavioral attitudes and activities, parents remain critical to preventing childhood obesity. Parental education may take the form of guiding which foods their children should consume. However, this relies on parents’ level of knowledge of which foods are healthy for their children’s development. Studies show that better-educated parents excel at choosing healthy weight maintaining foods for their offspring in comparison with those with relatively poorer education levels (Norman et al., 2019). Children also have limited control over food selection because they consume whatever food the parents provide. Moreover, parents can guide their children on maintaining appropriate intervals between meals to keep their weights optimally.
Further, such parental practices as availing foods within the home environment and establishing meal structures are vital in preventing inappropriate weight gain in childhood. Parents present role models for youngsters; therefore, to instill healthy food selection and consumption practices in their children, they need to lead by example (Ash et al., 2017). They can start by stacking various vegetables, whole grains, and fruit options in their fridges at home instead of sweetened and deeply processed foods. Additionally, parents can also promote such behaviors as eating home-made dinner as a family and nurturing their children to understand the importance of that culture.
Although childhood obesity professionals disapprove of dieting as a mechanism of maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI), it helps prevent childhood obesity. Parents who encourage dieting among their children report better healthy weight maintenance in their children (Norman et al., 2019). Parental inducement to diet is particularly important in causing children to consider and start dieting. Furthermore, parents’ direct verbal encouragement weighs greater than their dieting practices in influencing dieting in their children. However, among the adolescent age-group, the parental urge to diet may lead to unhealthy dieting practices. This variedness is due to the overemphasis on the thinness ideal, which can increase the risk for obesity over time.
Also, children are born with a biological set of taste attitudes that primarily predispose them towards sugary and salty meals and averse to bitter foods. But they develop their ultimate food habits through repeated exposure and everyday experience, which underlines parental education. Current data shows that the way parents feed their children determines the individual differences in their degree of regulating their food consumption (Elinder et al., 2018). This control further influences the children’s ability to handle the origins of energy imbalances. Parental influence is particularly high during early childhood when parents directly offer experiences that urge children to control food intake. By school age, when most children are opposed to new foods, parents can model healthful feeding norms and provide a variety of food options to their children.
Globally, the rise in childhood obesity is linked to the increasing adoption of sedentary behaviors. Parental modeling of such habits is vital to leveling weight gain among children. Parental involvement in controlling children’s passive ways promotes the adoption of healthy, weight leveling behaviors. The fact that there is a genetic predisposition to obesity and overweight underlines the importance of engaging parents in reducing sedentary culture among children. Modeling a child’s conduct in a family that is prone to developing obesity may run counter to any measures meant to maintain an appropriate weight (Moore et al., 2017). Parents can guide their children to limit the time they spend watching television and playing videogames. Instead, they should urge the children to dedicate more time to physically exerting activities.
Parental education on appropriate physical engagement for children is paramount to keeping a healthy weight in childhood. Physical activity is a critical aspect of energy balance, and urging children to remain active is essential to preventing childhood weight gain. More active preschoolers and even adolescents generally have lower BMI than those who are less physically active (Ash et al., 2017). Additionally, the longer children stay in the open air, the higher their physical activity levels are. As such, guardians should encourage outside play even though its effectiveness may be limited by the availability of parks and playing grounds that are safe for children.
To conclude, childhood obesity is a crucial public health issue that needs to be addressed, especially at home. Parents play a key role in home environment in preventing unhealthy childhood weight gain. Their roles change at different stages of children’s development. By educating children on such nutritional issues as appropriate food selection and eating patterns, children stand a better chance at maintaining the right weight for their age. Additionally, by stimulating physical activity and limiting sedentary behaviors, parents can reduce childhood obesity among their children. Other practices such as dieting require more care as it depends on the age group to which the child belongs.
Ash, T., Agaronov, A., Aftosmes-Tobio, A., & Davison, K. K. (2017). Family-based childhood obesity prevention interventions: A systematic review and quantitative content analysis. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14(1), 1-12.
Elinder, L. S., Patterson, E., Nyberg, G., & Norman, Å. (2018). A healthy school start plus for prevention of childhood overweight and obesity in disadvantaged areas through parental support in the school setting-study protocol for a parallel group cluster randomised trial. BMC Public Health, 18(459), 1-13.
Moore, E. S., Wilkie, W. L., & Desrochers, D. M. (2017). All in the family? Parental roles in the epidemic of childhood obesity. Journal of Consumer Research, 43(5), 824-859.
Norman, Å., Zeebari, Z., Nyberg, G., & Elinder, L. S. (2019). Parental support in promoting children’s health behaviours and preventing overweight and obesity–a long-term follow-up of the cluster-randomised healthy school start study II trial. BMC Pediatrics, 19(104), 1-11.