Getting obese kids into shape

‘€œWe have developed lesson plans to help the teachers to help the kids to be more physically active. But also to educate them around healthy diet, healthy nutrition, so that we create a habit of healthy lifestyles amongst the kids,’€ said Dr Craig Nossel, head of Vitality Wellnes.

He says the program is also  targeting parents to assist them  with necessary skills to encourage  their children   to live healthy lifestyle.

‘€œPart of the programme is engaging with the parents – providing material for them. Often, parents want their kids to be healthy but they are not sure what their kids should be eating. (They need to be) getting kids away from the TV sets, getting them to be active,’€ he said, adding that ‘€œeating healthily does not necessarily need to be costly. This program is not about expensive food, but around having a balanced diet where children can have access to vegetables’€.

He says he is aware that in some communities obesity is regarded as a sign of healthness but warns that, “people who are overweight are putting themselves at risk for conditions like hypertension, like diabetes”.  

The findings of the research,  on childhood  obesity, by Dr David Ludwig of the National Health Institute in the US indicates that obese children tend to be more socially isolated and have high rates of disordered eating patterns, anxiety and depression. Professor Tim Noakes of the Sport Institute of South Africa  agree. He says encouraging healthy lifestyle among children is very important.

‘€œChildren become more alert. They concentrate more and their self image improves. And some of them become healthier as a consequence. And I think we can make it happen. But we’€™ve got to educate at the same time. We have to educate children why it is important that they should maintain their physical activity,’€ he said.

Last year the Healthy Active Kids SA Report card also revealed that South African adolescents have the highest reported smoking prevalence in Africa.



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