I was joining in a discussion on BBC Radio today about this hugely worrying study that has revealed that Britain’s child obesity problems are out of control.
First official figures reveal 170,000 leave primary school overweight – and 22,000 are dangerously fat
- Just over a third of children who left primary school last year were overweight
- Of those 4.1 per cent, more than 22,000 pupils, were recorded as severely obese
- One in ten children were obese in reception, 2.4 per cent were severely obese
But by taking steps towards battling childhood obesity early on in your child’s life and taking a pro-active role yourself, you can help prevent this…
- Start young. Cook with your kids, get them chopping and choosing what you buy to eat. ‘Talking & Teaching’ about healthy choices.
- Sit down and eat WITH them regularly. Chat don’t nag about eating the broccoli and about holding the knife and fork properly ALL the time! Make meal times enjoyable.
- Try to teach your children about smart food choices rather than dieting.
- Have fun with finger foods that are bright colours.
- Limit their television/technology time, and participate in, or take an interest in, their activities. Getting active is vital.
- Consciously ‘Talk & Teach’ your kids about making better CHOICES.
- Keep a balance – don’t ban anything just make certain foods a treat rather than the norm.
- Do ‘ING’ activities – walkING to school, bikING at the weekend together as a family, walkING the dog across muddy fields, kickING a ball around in the back garden, dancING to music in your kitchen using the pepper grinder as a makeshift mike( oh is that only me? )
- Be a pro-active role model yourself, you can help prevent this from becoming a major problem in their lives if you eat healthy and take regular exercise that is FUN & EASY to do yourself. If a child gets a negative experience of ‘exercise’ at a young age, it’s going to be much harder to remove this image from their mind later on. Encourage 60 minutes of physical activity a day
- Keep to child-sized portions.
It’s never a good idea to give your young child the impression that they should be restricting their food intake. So watch how you speak about food. This can lead to negative associations with food and foster the development of an eating disorder later on in their teenage years.Instead, you want to help your child make better choices when they are hungry. Don’t ban foods – that makes them more interesting, but ‘talk and teach’ your child to listen to their body’s own hunger signals. This is the best way to get them in the habit of correlating their hunger with their food intake at a young age. Then down the road they will be less likely to eat for boredom or comfort or other reasons other than hunger, getting them to stop eating once they are full.
Aim to teach your children the importance of regularly including fruits and vegetables in their day – create a colourful fruit bowl that is readily available in the kitchen so they can see it and choose something healthy. Try and steer them away from large quantities of very carb-heavy sources such as pasta, large quantities of bread, and all the various snack foods that kids love. Make them a treat not the norm.
Research shows children who achieve a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn, and more self-confident.
They’re also less likely to have low self-esteem or be bullied. And they’re much less likely to have health problems in later life.
As a parent, there’s lots you can do to help your child become a healthier weight. Getting them to be more active and eat well is important.
Here’s some practical advice to help you from the NHS website on ‘Hidden causes of weight gain.’