Keep Children Away From Obesity, Prevent Various Chronic Diseases
28 June 2022
Obesity is not only experienced by adults, but among children it can trigger various chronic diseases if not curbed from the beginning.
According to Sunway Medical Centre Consultant Paediatrician and Paediatric Endocrinologist Dr Ch’ng Tong Wooi, the main cause of obesity in Malaysia is due to an inactive lifestyle and intake of high calorie foods.
“Children tend to eat frequently in large quantities in a day. They also like to eat unhealthy snacks that are high in sugar and fat. The 2019 National Health and Morbidity Survey conducted every four years shows that 50.1% of Malaysians are overweight with 19.7% of them suffering from obesity, while 30% of children between the ages of five to 13 are overweight," she said.
She added that most causes of obesity in children are due to excessive calorie intake and lack of exercise. However, there is also a possibility of genetics if childhood obesity starts at a younger age as early as five years.
Commenting on the risks faced by obese children, Dr Ch'ng said children will face diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and stroke.
"Obesity can also cause the body to be less able to use sugar at once, causing diabetes. In addition, high cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. The most important step to lose weight is to change your lifestyle. It includes adopting a healthy diet, reducing calories intake in their diet and increasing the intake of vegetables and fruits.
“Children are also recommended to exercise at least 45 to 60 minutes every day. Apart from that, changing lifestyle such as using the stairs, walking and engaging in physical activities in groups can also help to lose weight,” she explained.
She also recommends to control meal size to prevent obesity by adopting the concept of quarter-quarter-half. For example, consume a quarter portion of protein-based dish such as meat, chicken or fish, while another quarter consists of carbohydrates and the another half is for vegetables or fruits.
"Rice tends to be the staple food of Asians, therefore we recommend consuming rice in the amount that is equivalent to the size of a child’s hands. Children who are obese should stop drinking juice because according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), juice contains empty calories and it should be replaced with the whole fruits," she explained.