Obesity is a common health issue that is defined by having a high percentage of body fat. A body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher is an indicator of obesity. Over the last few decades, obesity has become a considerable health problem. In fact, it’s now considered to be an epidemic.
Despite the rising percentages, there are plenty of ways to prevent obesity in both kids and adults. Here we’ll explore both, as well as how far we’ve come in preventing obesity.
Tips for Preventing Childhood Obesity
Time needed: 40 minutes.
Obesity prevention begins at a young age. It’s important to help young people maintain a healthy weight without focusing on the scale.
- Breastfeed infants
Breastfeeding was associated with a reduced risk of childhood obesity. However, studies are mixed when it comes to the role of breastfeeding in obesity prevention, and more research is needed.
- Feed young children appropriate portion sizes
Toddlers don’t require huge amounts of food. From ages 1 to 3, every inch of height should equate to roughly 40 calories of food intake.
- Early relationships with healthy foods
Encourage your child to try a variety of different fruits, vegetables, and proteins from an early age. As they grow older, they may be more likely to incorporate these healthy foods into their own diet.
- Eat healthy foods as a family
Changing eating habits as a family allows children to experience healthy eating early on. This will make it easier for them to continue following good eating habits as they grow into adults.
- Eat slowly and only when hungry
Overeating can happen if you eat when you’re not hungry. This excess fuel eventually becomes stored as body fat and can lead to obesity. Encourage your child to eat only when they feel hungry and to chew more slowly for better digestion.
- Stop unhealthy foods in the household
If you bring unhealthy foods into the household, your child may be more likely to eat them. Try to stock the fridge and pantry with healthy foods, and allow less-healthy snacks as a rare “treat” instead.
- Encourage fun and exciting physical activity
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that kids and teens get at least 60 minutes of physical activity daily. Fun physical activities include games, sports, gym class, or even outdoor chores.
- Control your child’s screen time
More time spent sitting in front of a screen means less time for physical activity and good sleep. Because exercise and sleep play a role in a healthy weight, it’s important to encourage those activities over computer or TV time.
- Make sure everyone is getting enough sleep
Research suggests that both children and adults who don’t get enough sleep may end up weighing more.
- Know what your child is eating outside of the home
Whether in school, with friends, or while being babysat, children have plenty of opportunities to eat unhealthy foods outside of the home. You can’t always be there to monitor what they eat, but asking questions can help.
Obesity prevention tips for adults
Many of these obesity prevention tips are the same for losing or maintaining a healthy weight. The bottom is line that eating a healthy diet and getting more physical activity can help prevent obesity.
- Consume less “bad” fat and more “good” fat
- Consume less processed and sugary foods – consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods is linked to a higher risk of obesity. Many processed foods are high in fat, salt, and sugar, which can encourage overeating.
- Eat more vegetables and fruits – The daily recommendation for fruit and vegetable intake is five to nine servings per day for adults. Filling your plate with veggies and fruit can help keep calories reasonable and reduce the risk of overeating.
- Eat plenty of dietary fiber – people who take a fiber complex supplement three times daily for 12 weeks can lose up to 5 percent of their body weight.
- Focus on eating low–glycemic index foods – The glycemic index (GI) is a scale used to measure how quickly a food item will raise your blood sugar. Focusing on low-GI foods can help keep blood sugar levels steadier. Keeping your blood glucose levels steady can help with weight management.
- Get the family involved in your journey – Whether cooking with family or going on walks with friends, getting people involved can help to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
- Engage in regular aerobic activity – Incorporating regular physical activity into your schedule is important for maintaining or losing weight, among other benefits. 50 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity per week recommended.
- Incorporate a weight training regimen – Weight training is just as important to weight maintenance as an aerobic activity. In addition to weekly aerobic activity, the WHO recommends weight training that involves all your major muscles at least two times per week.
- Reduce daily stress – stress may trigger a brain response that changes eating patterns and leads to cravings for high-calorie foods. Eating too many high-calorie foods can contribute to the development of obesity.
- The food budget and meal prep – Creating a food budget and list for your shopping trips can help avoid temptations for unhealthy foods. In addition, prepping meals can allow you to have ready-to-go healthy meals.
Preventing obesity plays an important role in good health. Obesity is associated with a long list of chronic health conditions, many of which become more difficult to treat over time. These conditions include:
- metabolic syndrome
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- high triglycerides and low “good” cholesterol
- heart disease
- sleep apnea
- gallbladder disease
- sexual health issues
- nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
- mental health conditions
By focusing on obesity prevention and lifestyle changes, it may be possible to slow or prevent the development of these diseases.
Learn About: Warning signs of suicidal thoughts