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An Ayurvedic approach to childhood obesity

June 17, 2017

Childhood obesity is becoming an epidemic health problem across the world. The increase in the number of obese patients indicates that we are getting away from nature. This condition can be treated effectively by balanced nutrient intake and rational use of Ayurvedic medicine and Yoga. In Ayurveda, obesity has been elaborately described by the term ‘Atisthaulya’. Childhood obesity without any organic cause is being dealt here.

Obesity causes

The main causes and reasons behind this may be as under:

  1. Digestive disorders
  2. Substituting outdoor games with video games & TV
  3. Lazy and sedentary lifestyles
  4. Lack of exercise
  5. Hormonal imbalance and unhealthy diet
  6. Consuming high-calorie food (excess intake of heavy and oily food items and sweets)
  7. Improper assimilation of food
  8. Heredity (children of obese person has high risk)
  9. Slow metabolism which leads to fat deposits and weight gain
  10. Diseases like hypothyroidism, insulin resistance are also contributors to the disorders

Childhood Obesity Effects

The most dangerous aspect of childhood obesity is that it leaves the child vulnerable to illnesses that once only the aged suffered from. This includes conditions like type 2 diabetes and several heart conditions. In addition, obese children are also susceptible to sleep apnea, depression, low self-esteem, rage, and anxiety disorders. If these are ignored, they tend to become a part of the growing personality, creating a dysfunctional adult. This includes social ineptitude and awkwardness, anxiety and depression.

Like adults, kids too need to burn the fats they are eating. Hence, it is extremely important that your kids indulge in physical activities. In adulthood, they could face health issues like asthma, snoring, knee pains, sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes and high levels of cholesterol.

Ayurvedic Management of Childhood Obesity:

Diet Regimen (Ahara):

Oily and deep fried foods such as noodles, pizza, hamburger, french fries, pasta should be avoided. Limit sweetened food articles such as chocolates, sweets, cold drinks (sodas). Include nutritious wholesome food in the child’s diet. Fast food consumption should be limited. Avoid beverages like tea, coffee, and soft drinks.

Skipping meals does not promote weight loss.

Children should be provided with a morning meal (breakfast) that includes whole grains, fruits, and protein. A little water (half glass) should be taken before the meal. Cold water and cold drinks should not be taken along with meal (especially just after meal). More of fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet.

Liquid  Intake (Anupana): Children should be given lukewarm water in winter season while room temperature water (not cold) in the summer season in the evening time. Other liquids that are beneficial in reducing childhood obesity are honey, warm water, buttermilk, Tila taila (sesame oil).

Physical activity (Vyayama):

Encourage your child to participate in physical activities. Childhood obesity and weight gain are too common due to lack of physical activity, exercise, and sedentary lifestyle. Lead by example, if your children see that you are physically active and having fun, they are more likely to be active and stay active for the rest of the lives. For example, the average child spends approximately four hours each day watching television. Popularity of computer games and television programmes is directly proportional to the number of hours of inactivity. Children should be encouraged for physical activity, at least 60 minutes of fitness every day that may be in the form of sports, morning walk or cycling.

LimitScreen Time: With technology taking over today, almost every kid is addicted to their play stations, tablets or television. Switch off the television, computer, video games etc. when it exceeds a time Never allow more than two hours a day. This will provide time for more physical activity for your child.

Sleep (Nidra): Excessive sleeping or nap after lunch should be avoided.

Emotional support to the child:

Children need a lot of encouragement to be active. Children should be praised for making small changes and efforts for weight loss, not results. This, in turn, will encourage them to perform more. Be sensitive to your child’s needs. Overweight children may feel uncomfortable about participating in certain activities. Help them find physical activities that aren’t embarrassing or too difficult.

Medications &Yoga

Ayurvedic medicines are very effective in natural weight reduction along with the above regimen. But these medications must be taken in appropriate dose according to the body weight and under medical supervision. Self-medication should strictly be avoided. In Ayurveda, through proper shodhana (purification or detoxification), the dosa imbalance can be brought back to normal. The child can be given mild udwarthana (powder massage) which help in diminishing the fat content of the body(especially the subcutaneous fat). Kapha and medohara drugs and treatments are beneficial for obesity (even in children). The internal administration of certain kasayam (decoctions), vatis or gulikas (tablets) etc., can also help in reducing the extra fat content of the body.

Yoga involves a series of gentle postures, breathing exercises, and meditation techniques. Together these can treat obesity, correct imbalances in the body and create a healthy resolve to fight off the condition. Unlike other methods, yoga doesn’t have any unpleasant side effects, neither is it strenuous. Most child obesity exercises leave the child frustrated. Child Yoga leaves the child refreshed and positive. Yoga exercises involve a lot of stretching and bending, pushing all the muscles in the body into action. In addition, kids also learn to breathe properly, utilizing complete lung capacity, improve posture and build self-confidence. The meditative aspects of yoga help children cope with stress and anxiety. It also boosts willpower and concentration.

As far as prevention of the onset of obesity in children is concerned, parents play a major role. You can start with yourself first. Like we teach good manners to our kids to make them better human beings, similarly be a role model to promote good nutrition. You need to follow a diet thus letting your kids follow your footsteps. You also need to educate them about the harms of childhood obesity. Explain to them what it means, the causes,  effects, and prevention. Let them nurture the importance of nutrition, thus enabling them to make proper decisions about food. Parental instincts always state that the kids should be well fed to maintain their health and body. However, it could go wrong if you confuse your love with food.

 

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