Did You Know? An Obese Child Can Actually Be Malnourished


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Did the pediatrician tell you that your child is suffering from malnutrition even though he is overweight? That could confuse you but is, unfortunately, true. Malnutrition is not just about underweight but overweight too. And interestingly, obesity also occurs due to starvation.

Don’t be alarmed yet. There is a way around this, and we’ll tell you everything about these conditions.

What is malnutrition?

‘Mal’ is anything that is bad, negative, or less. A deficiency of nutrients, energy intake, and vital minerals is what constitutes malnutrition. This deficiency arises due to the absence of nutrients in the food we eat (1).

Malnutrition could be undernourishment or overnourishment, and both these conditions aren’t good because an overdose of nutrients also harms the body. Malnutrition affects the body in many ways and could be fatal as well. It increases the risk of diseases by weakening the immune system.

Is obesity a result of malnutrition?

Malnutrition can also result in obesity. Obesity occurs due to the over-consumption of non-nutritious foods. When children consume a lot of junk or unhealthy food (foods which are rich in saturated or trans fats, sugars, dense energy foods, etc.), they lean more towards obesity. Obesity results in many diet-related diseases, especially that of the heart. It could also cause type 2 diabetes and joint pains (2).

How can you correct the obesity in children?

Eating the right kind of food helps children grow well, both physically and mentally. But what does ‘right food’ mean?

If a child is eating the same kind of food all the time, then he might be at the risk of being malnourished because the same food gives only a set of nutrients and not all.

In developing countries, such as India, the trend is shifting heavily to quick, instant foods. These foods are high in sugars, trans fats, and come loaded with sodium and magnesium. This is tilting the balance of the body towards obesity. All of this can be prevented by switching to something healthy.

Prevention Saves You From Worries

Malnutrition can be checked from a young age.

  1. The very first way of understanding malnourishment is by monitoring your child’s weight.
  1. The next step is to feed right. Talk to a dietician and find out how your child can lose weight the right way and still get the required nutrients. Tell her the child’s feeding patterns, food intake, and illness (if any). These should help her chalk out a plan for your child.
  1. If the child has a certain deficiency, give him more foods containing that nutrient. However, do not discontinue other foods. Concentrate on building the deficit nutrient but make sure that the child has wholesome food.

Obesity is easier to tackle than you can imagine and is no demon. It just needs the right approach.

5 Tips To Reduce Obesity In Children:

1. Breakfast is a must:

Breakfast should be the first meal of the day. Having a good breakfast means you are prepping your child’s body to consume fewer calories for the rest of the day. If you skipped breakfast, your child would end up munching on whatever he gets. This is because when you skip breakfast, your blood sugar drops, you feel hungrier, have less energy, and end up binging on unhealthy foods (3).

2. Exercise it out:

If you aren’t working out those muscles, they are bound to get lethargic. Your body sweats out the stored fats only when you sweat out a bit. Exercising is a good way to keep obesity in check. Doing a few strenuous exercises can help your kid lose stubborn fat, which is a result of eating excessive fatty, sugary, and unhealthy foods (4).

3. Portion size balance:

Portion sizes for children are different from the portion sizes for adults. This should, especially, be considered when the child is indulging in junk or fast foods. See how much your child can eat and finish in a meal and do not overfeed. Children tend to over-eat things they like. This should be regulated.

Children between three and eight years old need 80-90 calories per kilogram per day, while those between eight and 12 years need 60-80 calories per kilogram per day (5). Of the total calories your child takes in a day, 76% should be fats, 13% proteins and 11% carbs.

4. Cut down screen time:

Yes, you read that right! If you want your child to lose weight and stay fit, you must reduce his time in front of screen – TV, computer, tab or mobile phone. This is simply because screen time limits or inhibits his physical activity time.

5. Keep a check on BMI:

If you begin keeping checks on BMI, you would know when your child is in the red zone. BMI helps you understand how much weight your kid needs to lose. Also, you should depend on a lot of fibre, good proteins and fats, and healthy calorie intake to keep the BMI in check.

Remember that your child is not only obese but also malnourished. While cutting down on junk food, you should also make sure that he is getting enough nutritious food. The best way to correct nutritional abnormalities in children is to give them a wholesome meal (6).

But would he like to replace pizza, samosa or burger with the healthy leaves, veggies and fruits? It is for you make the foods interesting.

6 Tips For Correcting Nutritional Abnormalities:

It is indeed true that most healthy foods are tasteless or do not taste good. But there is a way around it.

1. Use healthy dips:

Use healthy dips

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A little bit of mayo and a decent amount of cheese won’t hurt your growing child. In fact, serving a plate full or semi-boiled vegetables with dips or sauces such as the ones made from cheese, onions, oregano, etc., will benefit him.

2. Be creative:

Be creative

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You could serve bland food in interesting shapes and sizes to get your child to eat them.

3. Make yummy snacks:

Make yummy snacks

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If your child is a frequent eater, give him patties made of beets, kale, spinach, et al. Serve the patties with some yummy chutneys such as mint, tamarind, tomato. You could also add a slice or half of cheese over the patties to enhance their flavor.

4. Involve children:

Involve children

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Ask him to take care of the refrigerator arrangement, involve him in shopping for groceries, etc. And while you do this, explain him the importance of various fruits and vegetables. Have a cooking day and let him toss, add spices and salt.

5. Eat along:

Eat along

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Yes, you may try to convince your child that the food you’ve had is tasty, but is he going to believe you? Therefore, you need to eat all that you want to feed your kid. Make it yummy and eat it together. You could also start eating before you serve the kid. They have a natural desire to eat from your plate.

6. Choose wholesome foods:

Choose wholesome foods

Image: iStock

It is not easy to impress your children about eating healthy. So, what’s the easiest way? Give them something that is very yummy and also provides complete and balanced nutrition in just one glass of milk/water. Yes, and that is PediaSure! One of the best and tastiest ways of getting all the required nutrients and minerals is through PediaSure health drink. It is a storehouse with a blast of all the nutrients essential for a healthy growing.

Why we recommend PediaSure:

We recommend because paediatricians recommend it.

  • Yes, PediaSure is the No. 1 pediatrician-prescribed brand.
  • It has 37 vital nutrients.
  • PediaSure is the clam of growth and infection.
  • 5 Scoops is as good as:

5 Scoops is as good as

  • #BetterImmunityBetterGrowth

However, PediaSure is not for those who are lactose intolerant.

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