Environmental factors, lifestyle preferences, and cultural environment play major roles in increasing childhood obesity worldwide. Read the article to know more.
Obesity occurs due to the accumulation of excess fat in the body. It is usually caused due to excessive food intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility. Deposition of excess fat in the body can lead to many harmful effects on health, reduced life expectancy, and increased health problems. A body mass index (BMI) of more than 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese. During this pandemic, children have been forced to stay indoors. Other factors like limited playing and online classes also have a major impact on obesity in children.
A child is thought to be obese when his or her body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person's weight by the square of the person's height, exceeds 30 Kg/m2. By following the guidelines based on ayurvedic fundamentals, parents can effectively manage their child's obesity.
Obesity in Ayurveda:
In ayurveda, obesity has been elaborately described by using the term Atisthaulya. Childhood obesity without any organic cause is being dealt with here. It is considered one of the diseases due to consumption of excessive calories and is referred to as Santarpanottha Vikaras in ayurveda. Obesity is described in ayurveda like:
Excessive accumulation of Meda (fat/adipose tissue).
Mamsa (flesh/muscle tissue) leads to flabbiness of the hips, abdomen, and thigh flabbiness.
A few causes of Obesity include:
Overeating and irregular food habits.
Children have more energy-dense foods that are high in fat and carbohydrates.
Lack of physical activities due to a sedentary lifestyle.
Endocrine disorders, genetics, medical reasons, or psychiatric illness.
Breathlessness even on little exertion or physical activity.
Lack of interest in doing work.
Profuse sweating with foul body odor.
Ayurvedic Management of Childhood Obesity:
Diet Regimen (Ahara):
An unhealthy diet can result in the deposition of fatty tissue in the body leading to weight gain and obesity.
Children should avoid eating oily and deep-fried foods like noodles, pizza, hamburgers, hot dog buns, french fries, and pasta.
Parents should not give sugar-sweetened foods like chocolate, sweets, cold drinks (sodas).
Method of Dieting to Avoid Childhood Obesity:
A morning meal (breakfast) for children should always contain whole grains, fruits, and protein. Skipping meals does not promote weight loss. Little water (half glass) should be taken before the meal. Cold water and cold drinks should not be taken along with the meal (especially just after the meal). More fruits and vegetables should be included in the diet.
Fruits: Amalaki (Indian gooseberry), Bilva (Bael fruit), Bibhitaki (Beleric Myrobalan), Haritaki (Myrobalan), and Jambu (Syzygium Cumini).
Vegetables: Patol (pointed gourd), Trapusha (cucumber), Granjanak (carrot), Shigru (drumstick), Vartaka (brinjal).
If the child hesitates to eat these fruits and vegetables, then make them more palatable by serving them in the form of fruit mix or vegetable confections.
Liquid Intake (Anupana):
Children should be given lukewarm water in the winter season and room temperature water (not cold) in the summer season. Other liquids that help reduce childhood obesity are honey, warm water, buttermilk, and Tila taila (sesame oil).
Physical Activity (Vyayama):
Children should be encouraged to do physical activity, such as, at least 60 minutes of fitness every day in the form of sports, morning walks, or cycling.
Limit Screen Time:
Switch off the television, computer, video game, etc., after a maximum of two hours a day. This will provide time for more physical activity for your child.
Excessive sleeping or a nap after lunch has a major impact on obesity, which should be avoided.
Psychotherapy (Satvavajaya Chikitsa):
Parent's role: Parents should set a good example for children by choosing a healthy diet and doing ample exercise.
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.
As daytime sleep can increase, kapha dosha also imbalances Agni which in turn increases body fat, day time sleep or excessive sleep should be avoided.
Shamana (Palliative) Treatment:
Oral use of digestives to increase the fat metabolism (Ama pachan).
Dry medicated powder massage (Ruksha Udwartan).
Heavy and non-nourishing diets or items like honey, salad, etc., are advised.
Physical exercises and mental work are recommended.
Samshodhana Chikitsa (Purificatory Procedures):
Therapeutic emesis (Vaman).
Virechan - Therapeutic purgation cleanses the body by removing toxins from the gastrointestinal tract, liver, and gallbladder.
Lekhan Vasti - Medicated enemas are advised to manage Sthaulya (obesity).
Single Drugs: Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Vidanga, Sunthi, Musta, Amla, Vaca, Daruharidra, Guggulu, etc.
Compound Formulations: Trikatu, Navak Guggulu, Triphala Guggulu, Vidangadi Churna, Takrarishta, Navayasa lauha, Arogya Vardhini Vati, etc.
Ayurvedic medicines are very effective in natural weight reduction and the above regimen. But these medications must be taken in appropriate doses according to the body weight and under medical supervision. Self-medication should strictly be avoided.
Lifestyle modifications include the following:
Eating a healthy diet.
Adopting an active lifestyle like mild to moderate exercise according to individuals capacity.
A regular habit of morning walks for at least 30 minutes.
Avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
Avoid excessive sleep.
Avoid watching television or any electronic gadgets while having food.
Obesity is the common disease of all age groups seen among people of high socioeconomic status, especially in urban communities; therefore, WHO (world health organization) has declared it a global epidemic. Getting obese or overweight are also some of the dangerous consequences observed in children and teens during the pandemic. The primary reasons for this are their food habits, no exercise, and excessive screen time. When these have been well balanced with diet alterations, regular exercise, and reduced screen time, obesity can be reduced in children.
Last reviewed at:
24 Feb 2022 - 4 min read
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