A mother, upset about her five-year-old son having become extremely overweight, has managed to resolve the situation by seeking help from a counsellor and dietician.
“My son Lehlohonolo is only five years old, and is already weighing 45kg. The last time he visited the clinic, the nurse advised me that I must watch what I give my child to eat because he is too overweight for his age,” Mokoena said.
“I do not know when things went wrong, but I am the one to blame for my son’s weight because I am spoiling him by giving him too much junk food and fizzy drinks. He prefers this kind of food, especially chips, so I usually buy it for him everyday after pre-school before dropping him at after care.”
Junk food addiction
Mokoena said she would offer buy burgers, cold drinks and sweets for her son, and was shocked when she was told that she was not being kind, but rather harming her child.
“I don’t know what to do any more. When I try to be tough with him, it hurts,” she said, explaining the pain she felt when she did not give in to the child’s demands for junk food.
I do not know when things went wrong, but I am the one to blame for my son’s weight because I am spoiling him by giving him too much junk food and fizzy drinks.
“I started going to therapy in order to deal with all of this, because I could no longer stand seeing my son eating about four meals a day,” she said, adding that not only was Lehlohonolo overweight, his teeth had also started changing colour.
Dental surgeon Dr Sello Phakoe said many children experienced a discolouration of their teeth because of excessive consumption of sugary drinks and insufficient brushing.
“I always advise my patients not to drink too much tea or fizzy drinks, and that they should go for regular check-ups with dentist,” he said.
Encouraged by what she was learning through counselling, Mokoena managed to start a healthier eating programme at home. She also signed Lehlohonolo up for tennis at his pre-school, as well as for swimming lessons.
“I want him to exercise more so he can lose some weight,” she said.
Tennis coach Lyndon van der Haer said he tried to encourage the overweight children he teaches to do extra practice rounds in an effort to make them more active.
Mokoena said after realising that she was harming Lehlohonolo by allowing bad eating habits she has since made a rule banning junk food and fizzy drinks at home.