Dr. Uche Anene-Nzelu, Senior Registrar in Paediatrics, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, has advised parents and caregivers to provide balanced diet to prevent diabetes and hypertension in children.
Anene-Nzelu gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday in Lagos.
According to her, when a child gets more than the required amount of nutrition, it may cause obesity, leading to diabetes, hypertension and other metabolic issues.
The paediatrician explained that a child who gets more than the required amount of nutrients was suffering from a type of malnutrition she referred to as overnutrition.
Anene-Nzelu said: “Malnutrition is when there is an imbalance between the intake and the requirements for a child.
“It can either be undernutrition or overnutrition.
“In overnutrition, the child is getting much more than he’s required to get and becomes obese.
“Most of them are unable to move around, so they live a sedentary lifestyle.
“They are unable to engage in physical activities, so they eat more and get more obese.”
Anene-Nzelu, however, noted it was important to determine if a child is actually obese, because not every child who looks big is overweight.
She said: “Some children are on the big side.
“There is a range of weight expected for every child.
“The child may just be in the higher border of that range, which is still within normal.”
Anene-nzelu cautioned parents and caregivers against allowing their wards to live a sedentary lifestyle, adding that it was another cause of obesity.
She decried the situation where children, who should be physically active, were engaged in watching television, playing games on laptops, tablets and phones.
“The children are no longer playing as much, so they eat and the body stores it because it is unable to use it if they don’t engage in activities to help reduce it,” she said.
She further said giving meals in adequate amount, adequate proportion and appropriate preparation was the baseline for every child.
The paediatrician also cautioned against giving an inappropriate preparation to children.
“Imagine given a two month old child rice meal, it can cause diarrhoea,” she said.
Anene-Nzelu said apart from hypertension and diabetes, there are other metabolic problems that may cause a child to add weight.
She said: “If a child lacks lepton – an enzyme that helps to control eating and satiety – the child may not know when he’s satisfied.
“So the child is likely to eat a lot more.
“There’s also type two diabetes, though not common in children, but can occur in them.
“That comes with children putting on extra weight.”