So last weekend, my Bubu and I, Oh yes…. I used Bubu sent us into panic after a bad fall which left her cheek pierced by the pointed hand of one of her dolls cutting through the inside of her mouth!
Sounds strange, right? Trying to grasp the nature of home accidents is back-breaking even for a paediatrician! So, imagine the races in my mind.
With my heart skipping rapidly, I imagined our case (a bleeding and swollen faced five-year-old) was an emergency until I encountered a mother, ranting, swearing, spilling cruelty at her little boy.
“…Ne ku katebe tojaako? nze kyana gwe ontamye…terela, kilabe ebitama…era omusawo bwatakufunira dagala nsimanyi nakyegenda kukolera…,” (you don’t even fit on this bench, you disgust me child, sit properly, look at your big cheeks, and if the doctor fails to find medication for you, I don’t know what I will do for you)
Bits of YOU!
The onlookers stared back with unvoiced scorn towards the woman’s attitude. Fighting my own ‘demons’ not to lash at her, l gathered myself to ask ‘what is the matter?’
The mother responded, “he is so fat, he wasn’t like this but since the lockdown, his weight just keeps increasing. Even when we starve him, it’s not helping so I have brought him to the doctor…the doctor has said, he weighs 67kg…”
With that answer, I couldn’t bring myself to understand this mother but I pondered!
As my mind skipped, it travelled back to one of our family friends who often jokes; “my kids eat like pigs, they’ve grown fat and if schools don’t open soon, I would ‘let the dogs out”.
This wasn’t a joke!
The mother was later informed that the child’s blood count had been found to be low and his blood pressure was high.
Our Paediatrician would later intimate that since the lockdown in March 2020, he had received several cases of distressed parents seeking treatment for their children that had gained ‘unappealing’ weight.
The burden of weight gain on children also spills into high blood pressure, high cholesterol as high-risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea, according to Paediatrician Dr. Sabrina Kitaka.
Obesity is a growing problem in Ugandan children. Kitaka cites a 2013 study among school going children that showed a prevalence of obesity in six per 100 children.
For a child to suffer the additional psychological problems- anxiety, depression, low self-esteem is a nightmare that fuels bullying from peers but even worse if it starts at home with the parents like the mother in the emergency room.
Children who are obese are more likely to become adults with obesity and as adults, there is increased risk to heart disease and cancer.
As parents, before sounding the alarm, watch the eating habits of your children.
Obesity in children is said to be self-diagnosable, treatable and Dr. Kitaka recommends preventable measures of eating healthy foods of limited quantities and exercising frequently.
All children are prone to obesity, she says.
While it’s not likable for our children to gain ‘unwanted’ body weight, it’s reversible.
I am sounding the bell and not only to watch out for what they eat, but also ringing the morning bell at home for routine exercises (call them fun games if you like).
Andrew Kyagulanyi Mawejje the main fitness instructor at Inmotion Dance Studio and Genesis at Village Mall, Bugolobi recommends the following home exercises for children in form of games.
- Skipping a rope in turns
- Playing soccer with them
- Having a walk/jog together
- Riding bicycles
- Squats and pushups for body firmness and joints strengthening
NB- Gym- Children above seven years can be allowed to access the gym with the help of a fitness instructor and the recommended equipment include; treadmills, spinning bikes and light weights according to the child’s age.
Thank me weeks later when you adopt that!