The frequency of infant, childhood and adolescent obesity is rising around the world. In the UK 3.28 million school children are expected to be overweight or obese by 2025. Current stats show that nearly a third of children aged 2-15 are overweight or obese and staying obese for longer.
Obesity can negatively impact on child’s immediate and long-term health, educational accomplishments and quality of life. Action needs to be taken.
As a parent there are lots of things you can do to help your child achieve or maintain a healthier weight.
All children need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day. This doesn’t have to be all at once, short periods of 10 minutes bursts throughout the day can be just as effective as an hour-long activity.
Be a good role model
One of the best and most effective ways to encourage your child to be active and eat well is to do so yourself; lead by example!
Eat healthy meals
Start with small meal servings and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry. Try not to make your child eat more than they want. Fruit and vegetables are great sources of fibre, vitamins and minerals.
A good nights sleep
Sleep is a very important part of a child’s wellbeing. Evidence shows that night time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise for a child’s development. Those who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight or obese. This is likely to be because the lack of sleep makes the child crave and eat sugary or starchy food during the day to give them energy to stay awake.
The key to how much sleep is whether a child gets up fairly easily in the morning, is alert and happy for most of the day, and is not grumpy. There is not a set amount of sleep that children should get but an approximate guide would be:
2-5 years need at least 11 hours sleep
6-9 need at least 10 hours sleep
10-16 need at least 9 hours sleep
If you are concerned about your child’s weight your GP or health worker can give you more information about what you can do and what support is in your area.