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Children and obesity are among the most sensitive topics you can talk about. Since we also consider our furry companions as part of our family, this also becomes a touchy subject when they get pudgy.
When speaking of obese children, the most important thing for parents is to work with the child’s self-esteem and try to teach them about healthier food choices since obesity at an early age can be detrimental to their health later on in life.
This applies to our four-legged friends too as we’re the ones who must make the right choices for them.
The way of overcoming obesity in children and pets comes in many forms and there is no one-fits-all approach. However, adopting and maintaining a healthy pattern of healthy, nutritious diet along with regular physical activity can make a world of difference.
In this article, we look at how to tackle this complex health issue in children and pets through certain nutrition tips.
Obesity In Children
Obesity in children is a prevalent problem across the world. This problem comes as a result of a combination of causes, including lack of exercise and a poor diet.
There is also an increasing number of overweight toddlers who consume energy-dense food which means that they store more energy than what they can spend.
Being overweight is not a disease but involves an increased risk of developing obesity which is considered a disease as it can lead to several medical conditions in children, but also in adulthood. Proper toddler nutrition is essential and the first step to ingraining healthy habits that will last a lifetime and prevent obesity.
Obesity in children can lead to several immediate problems and cause different symptoms. The child may have knee problems and hip problems, get tired very easily, and find it increasingly difficult to participate in physical activities.
What To Do?
The best thing you can do as a parent is to help your child learn and appreciate good diet habits. It’s about serving nutritious food at certain times and limiting the intake of what can be called junk food.
Do not neglect breakfast as it provides the child with energy throughout the day. Make sure the child eats wholemeal bread, less saturated fat, fewer sweets, and avoid offering sugary drinks, and snacks high in calories.
Try to have them eat 5 or more portions of fruits and veggies every day as they are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Always remember to keep your child hydrated with plenty of water.
If these tips don’t work as much as you anticipated, try something different. For example, if your child refuses to eat breakfast in the morning, let them eat a healthy snack instead.
There is no exact rule of thumb on how much food your child needs so you should judge for yourself. Start with small servings, try not to push your child to finish everything on the plate, and don’t cheer or reward with meals as this can lead the child to develop an unhealthy relationship with food.
Have them eat slowly and set meal times as children need structure. Even if they’re not involved in organized sports or exercise activities, it’s always fun for kids to be on the move to keep the weight under control but also to build self-confidence and learn valuable social skills.
Obesity in Pets
If your pet has gained a significant amount of weight and is categorized by the veterinarian as obese, you must be aware of what it means for its overall health. Obesity increases the risk of the dog suffering from serious and difficult conditions, such as diabetes, heart and lung problems, osteoarthritis, and weakened immune system. Above all, it also reduces the animal’s lifespan.
For this reason, pet parents have the responsibility of getting informed about different types of pet health insurance that will guarantee that finances won’t get in the way of getting the best care and protection for your pet.
The animal’s breed, age, heredity, and current lifestyle are all factors that contribute to the risk of becoming obese or having difficulty losing weight. You must make sure that the pet gets the right food, exercise, and lifestyle so that it gets in shape again and feels good.
What To Do?
If your pet is obese, it should first be examined by a veterinarian to determine if there may be an underlying cause for it. It might be surprising but obesity in dogs and cats is a common disorder.
Even though your dieting pet should consume a restricted amount of calories if obese, it still needs an optimal amount of protein, minerals, and vitamins, and dietary fibers that assist in increasing the level of satiety while keeping blood sugar at a steady level throughout the day.
For your furry friend to effectively lose weight, reduce caloric intake, and try increasing their daily exercise. Offer meals twice a day in the morning and at night as it will stop the animal from gorging at a single meal.
As with children, our pets love their treats but you should always control and cut down the intake of sugary snacks.
Many people think that it can be difficult to resist their pet’s pleading gaze, but you should keep in mind that it’s not just hunger that makes the dog beg for food. Some animals are very fond of food or eat out of old habits. When the dog becomes needy, go for a long walk or play with it, and you may be surprised to see that this is at least as good a reward for them as a treat or extra meal.
Although it might seem unusual, there are striking similarities when comparing obesity in children and pets.
All in all, when trying to overcome this health issue, the same approach is used for both animals and small children. Keep a close watch on what your child or pet is consuming and encourage healthier eating habits. Steer clear of ultra-processed foods and keep the nutrition wholesome with lots of whole grain products, proteins, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Last but not least, remember to stay positive and supportive during the entire process so it feels pleasant for your child and your beloved pet companion.