Abuja — Dr. Otumu Odianosen, a general practitioner, on Thursday called on parents to make healthy changes to their family's lifestyle to curtail childhood-obesity.
Odianosen said in Abuja that parents should also ensure the provision of nutritious foods, reduce television time and ensure good night's sleep for their children to prevent obesity.
"Parents should create an active and healthy eating environment at home, they should limit the amount of television watching. Only two hours are recommended for a child to watch television each day," he said.
He said parents were the most important role models for their children since they learn quickly from them.
Two studies reported in the Journal of Paediatrics (2005) said every extra hour of weekend television at the age of five increases by seven per cent the chances of being obese at the age of 30.
"Also, 11 year old girls, who watch TV more than two hours in a day are more than twice as likely to be overweight as girls who watched less.
"Involve children in household activities like vacuuming, spreading of washed clothes on cloth lines for drying, washing the car, and gardening or mowing the lawn," he said.
The doctor said the family should participate in regular physical activities such as walking, jogging or bicycling.
Odianosen said parents should encourage their children to participate in at least one of such activities as tennis, gymnastics, swimming, volleyball among others.
He recommended the implementation of healthy diet (rich in fruits, vegetables and grains) for the entire family.
"Eat meals together at the dinner table at regular times and do not watch TV while eating.
"All should eat healthy nutritious food (fruits, vegetables and grains). Avoid foods that are high in calories, fat or sugar," he said.
"Children, who eat a low glycemic index (GI) breakfast show improved memory and attention. Good low-GI breakfast foods include breakfast cereal with low fat milk, fruits, yoghurt, whole grain toast and limit fast foods to no more than once per week," he said.
He said many foods marketed for children were often advertised as healthy, but some were worse than junk food because of their sugar and saturated fat content.
"As a parent, you must see that you do not send your child to parties that are hosted at junk foods restaurants.
He said parents should know that they have very important role in maintaining healthy lifestyle among children.