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Obesity in children: Nutritious diet, physical activity, limited screen time key to healthy childhood – Moneycontrol

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Obesity in children: Opting for whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while minimising the intake of processed foods high in sugar, fat, and calories is crucial (Image: Canva)

Obesity in children: Opting for whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while minimising the intake of processed foods high in sugar, fat, and calories is crucial (Image: Canva)

In today’s modern world, nurturing positive habits in children and adolescents is important for their overall well-being. Taking a comprehensive approach that addresses nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and screen time management is essential in encouraging their optimal growth and development. As responsible adults, whether parents, guardians, or educators, it is the responsibility to ingrain these habits early on, laying the groundwork for a lifetime of health and vitality.

Here are five steps for healthy growth of your child

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Promote healthy nutrition: A well-balanced diet is fundamental for the growth and development of children. Emphasising whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains while minimising the intake of processed foods high in sugar, fat, and calories is crucial, says childcare professional Rajeev Saxena from Fortis Hospital. Encouraging the consumption of lean proteins like poultry, fish, and legumes, along with low-fat dairy products, contributes to a nutritious diet, he says. Making water the primary beverage choice over sugary drinks helps promote hydration and reduces the intake of empty calories.

Incorporating healthy eating habits into daily routines is vital. Beginning the day with a nutritious breakfast, whether at home or school, provides children with the necessary fuel for their minds and bodies. Involving children in meal planning and preparation fosters an appreciation for wholesome foods and diverse flavours. Modeling healthy eating behaviours at home reinforces the importance of making nutritious food choices.

Snack strategically: Snacks play a significant role in children’s diets, but they should prioritise nourishment over indulgence, says Saxena. Limiting snacks high in saturated fat, added sugar, and salt, and opting for nutrient-rich options such as fresh fruits and vegetables paired with hummus or nut butter, or yoghurt with berries, helps maintain sustained energy levels throughout the day.

Encourage physical activity: Regular physical activity is essential for children’s physical health, cognitive function, and emotional well-being. Aim for at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day, encompassing aerobic, bone-strengthening, and muscle-strengthening exercises, says Saxena. Encouraging outdoor play, active games, and participation in sports makes physical activity enjoyable and engaging.

Incorporating physical activity into family routines by engaging in walks, bike rides, or active games together sets a positive example on child. Providing access to local parks, playgrounds, and recreational facilities encourages diverse opportunities for children to stay active. Supporting participation in school or community sports programs fosters valuable life skills such as teamwork and perseverance.

Manage screen time: In today’s digital age, managing screen time is essential to safeguard children’s physical and mental well-being, says Saxena. Setting clear boundaries around screen usage and promoting alternative activities that stimulate creativity, social interaction, and physical movement is imperative. Creating screen-free zones and times within the home helps strike a healthy balance between technology use and real-world experiences.

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Prioritise sleep hygiene: Adequate sleep is fundamental for children’s growth, development, and overall health. Establishing consistent bedtime routines and creating a conducive sleep environment contribute to restorative sleep. Limiting caffeine intake, reducing stimulating activities before bedtime, and promoting relaxation techniques aid in facilitating a smooth transition to sleep.

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