Healthy Weight Management for Children with Autism
The percentage of children and adolescents categorized as obese has continued to rise in recent years. The dramatic increase in overweight youth has raised concerns among physicians and public health officials alike. There have been countless initiatives to try and help more children maintain a healthy lifestyle. From education programs to laws regulating advertising, officials and doctors are doing what they can to resolve this growing issue. While these initiatives may help some children, there has been very little energy committed to developing strategies or programs that address the problem of obesity specifically for children with autism.
There has been a consistent rise year to year in the number of children and adolescents being identified as obese. This has led to increased concerns among the nation’s public health officials. Countless initiatives and health programs have been created and carried out to try and help greater numbers of children maintain a better, healthier lifestyle. This may help some children, but there is very little being done for obese children who also suffer from autism. More and more recommendation has been given to engage children in some kind of physical activity or sport. They should carry out physical activity for at least 60 minutes each day. But this is somewhat difficult for autistic children since most of the recommended activities involve groups, and not all autistic children deal with the same symptoms. Also, they have trouble when it comes to social interaction. If these concerns are not dealt well at the start, then it will only prove problematic for these children since, for example, they would spend most of their time sidelined instead of staying on the field. Research has also shown that autistic children prefer a sedentary lifestyle and similar activities, however, it is recommended to limit their sedentary screen time to only two hours a day or less.
Wrong food choices are also one of the biggest reasons autistic children gain weight, and this can negatively affect the health of the child as well. It is recommended that the child be given a balanced meal, which should contain plenty of fresh fruits and veggies. Also, there should be a limit on their intake of sugary and processed foods. Children who suffer from autism are very likely to be on more than one medication in comparison to those who do not have autism. These medications are proven to help the child and do a lot of good in terms of managing their symptoms, but a few of the medications are known to have their own side effects, such as an alteration of the child’s dietary preferences and lowering their rate of metabolism as well, which contributes to an increase in weight.
There is no one strategy that perfectly fits all children who suffer from autism and have to manage their weight since every child has a variety of symptoms, and the severity of the disease differs as well. It is difficult to come up with just one cure to help all of those children, but there are certain things that can be managed, such as trying to get plenty of physical activity, which can include any sport or activity that the child enjoys. The main point here is to identify the child’s interest and then build an activity around it. The next action is to regulate the child’s dietary preferences, which can include designing a schedule of meals and snacks at particular times and then sticking to it on a consistent basis.
It is also important to track the activities the child performs in order to identify their progress in managing their weight and to see if any changes need to be made.