28th September, 2011
Globally, one major health issue affecting young people in recent times is obesity. Caused by poor diet and inactive lifestyle, child obesity has been associated with a diverse range of health problems, from sleep disorders, menstrual abnormalities, psychological issues to further long-term complications like cardiovascular disease, all of which cause early death. Managing Director of Body Confidence Fitness Centre, Mrs. Sharon Akinyemi, a fitness expert, speaks with YouthForum about what can be done to prevent child obesity and the two-week fun, exercise and fitness programme organised recently for children
Is Obesity a serious health issue in Nigeria ?
Yes, many children are battling with excess fat. Of course with age, the weight of children are expected to increase but now you will discover that a six-year-old child can weigh over 40kilos. It is alarming because that is an indication that the child has too much fat and is prone to life-threatening diseases. Children need to have a better understanding of the health implications of what they eat and do everyday.
It is wrong when parents allow their children to eat anyhow. Most parents make a mistake by not introducing healthy foods to their children early. They prefer to give them foods with more fat and sugar. I tried wheat bread with the children that came for the teens pysical fitness fiesta I organised recently and they enjoyed it. This means that children can be encouraged to eat good foods.
What are the health implications of child obesity?
A lot of children are coming up with heart problems like cardiovascluar.diseases, diabetes and even cancer. That shouldn’t be. These are medical conditions that come with age and can lead to death. Many come up with abdominal obesity even at that tender age because their metabolism is being tampered with. If there is instability in your metabolism it goes a long way to affect the assimilation of nutrients in your body, if there is any. I checked a teenager recently and I realised that his blood pressure had risen. I was surprised. By the time I did my analysis and talked to the boy, I discovered that his eating habit was poor. Parents should introduce healthy foods to their children at early stage and not processed foods and refined drinks and make them exercise daily.
What is wrong with white bread?
White bread is made from refined flour, the wheat of the bread has gone through processing. Thus the nutrients in the wheat have been extracted and replacedwith preservatives that will do no good to anybody.
Going to the gym is not a popular culture here, many parents feel that because children play around, they can easily burn fat without exercising?
You are right. Africa generally are not into physical fitness . The way our day to day activites have been designed is such that we donâ€™t have time to really take care of our bodies. People feel it is all about work, school, eat and sleep. No. Your body needs to be in proper condition to be able to withstand even your daily task. Exercise is preventive, while we go to hospital for cure of our illness.
Students should avoid processed foods while exercise would help them digest their food easily. It improves their metabolism.
Do you think children can do this by themselves?
Children need push from their parents and schools. . The mortality rate of children is increasing and parents are the cause of it. If they introduce physical fitness to them early, they would have less work to do and this health condition would be averted.
If they can afford it, it is important that parents register their children in fitness centres. They should also engage them actively. Weekly Physical Education class is not enough in schools. Let students exercise daily in the morning before they retire to their classroom for their daily activities. And in boarding schools, students should be enfored to come out early, between 6 am and 6: 30am to engage in physical exercise like joggging. And schools should fix particular days for different sports.
There are lots of concentration on soccer for boys, what about girls? There are so many sports like basket ball, volley ball, badminton, track and field, tennis, etc that students can engage in.. Schools should also provide sporting facilities for students to workout daily.
This will go a long way to affect their level of academic performance, including their concentration skills.