Child Obesity – How Can You Help Prevent It?
According to NHS figures, child obesity is a growing problem as children are becoming obese as young as four or five years old. Overall, 9.3% of four-five year olds in primary reception class in England in 2015-2016 were classed as obese – up from 9.1% the previous year. The number of obese 10 and 11 year olds in their last primary school year also rose from 19.1% to 19.8% last year – nearly one in five.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, said: “Our nation has hit a devastating record high for childhood obesity. The trend over the last decade is showing no signs of slowing down, and this worrying news is something that could have been prevented with more government action.”
So perhaps the government’s strategy to tackle child obesity has not met the standards expected by both families and experts. We have no control over what the government prioritises, but you, as parents and foster parents, can implement changes in your household to help keep child obesity under control. Here’s how:
- Encourage healthy eating habits. Small changes can lead to a recipe for success!
- Provide plenty of vegetables, fruits and whole-grain products
- Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein
- Serve reasonably sized portions
- Encourage your family to drink lots of water
- Limit sugar-sweetened beverages, sugar, sodium and saturated fat
- Make favourite dishes healthier – Some of your favourite recipes can be healthier with a few changes.
- Remove calorie-rich temptations. Treats are OK in moderation, but limiting high fat and high sugar or salty snacks can also help your children develop healthy eating habits. Here are examples of easy-to-prepare, low-fat and low-sugar treats that are 100 calories or less:
- A medium sized apple
- A medium sized banana
- 1 cup of blueberries
- 1 cup of grapes
- 1 cup of carrots, broccoli or bell peppers with 2 tbsp of hummus
- Help your kids understand the benefits of being physically active. Teach them that physical activity has great health benefits like:
- Strengthening bone
- Decreasing blood pressure
- Reducing stress and anxiety
- Increasing self-esteem
- Helping with weight management
- Help kids stay active.
Children and teens should participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week. You can set a great example – start adding physical activities, such as brisk walking or playing sports, to your own daily routine and encourage your child to join you.
- Reduce sedentary time.
Although quiet time for reading and homework is fine, limit “screen time” (TV, video games, computers) to no more than 2 hours a day.