Childhood Obesity: What Can We Do?

Childhood obesity is known to be a problem, but did you know that the UK is the third fattest nation in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation? That’s pretty scary.

Childhood obesity stats

Obesity is rife not only among grown adults but more and more children and young people are also falling into this category.

Being severely overweight during childhood has been linked to numerous health conditions, including (but not limited to) asthma and other lung conditions, type 2-diabetes and cardiovascular ailments.

But what can we do to combat this?

We are leading an increasingly sedentary lifestyle and life is so busy, that cooking healthy food from scratch isn’t always practical or affordable for the average family.

There are small actions we can take though, to help ensure a healthier future for our kids.

Decrease screen time:

It goes without saying, but we are spending more and more time glued to screens and as a result, sedentary. Try to limit screen-time to no more than 2 hours a day. There are lots of good things about screens, but there are lots of other equally beneficial things kids can do with their time…

Move:

Playing outside, joining a sports team or even helping around the house or in the garden are great ways to keep kids busy without screens. These activities will also build robust social skills, help kids to find and make friends and strengthen their growing bones and muscles.

Make it a family affair:

Try not to isolate anyone because of their weight – instead try to be healthier as a family. Go on walks or bike rides at the weekend instead of binge watching your favourite Netflix show. Limit eating out or getting take-away to the occasional treat and try cooking healthy meals at home. If money is an issue, there are lots of great resources online – check out BBC Good Food for easy meal ideas or give Eat Well For Less? a watch (available on BBC iPlayer). Pasta, potatoes and rice are all cheap, quick to prepare and serve as versatile bases for countless meals.

Respect your kids’ appetite:

If they say they are full, don’t push them to eat everything on their plate. Try serving smaller child-sized portions on a small plate rather than a regular-sized dinner plate. They can always come back for seconds if they’re still hungry.

Take it slowly:

Introduce changes gradually. If being more active is your first priority, start with 5 or 10 minutes a day and build it up over a few weeks. Planning to up the veg intake? Start with small portions of more palatable foods, such as sweet potatoes or carrots. Finally, involve your kids! If they feel like they have an input and some choice in the matter they will be far more likely to embrace any changes.

Hopefully this article shows that there are small and easy-to-implement steps to avoid childhood obesity. We can all take some steps to invest in our kids’ health (and our own!).

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