Obesity is a medical term used to describe children (and adults) who carry 20 per cent extra body weight. This extra weight, if not treated early on, could cause serious health problems such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression in later life. Help stop obesity before it starts by making sure they eat a balanced diet and get enough exercise.
Being overweight is rarely to do with having a medical problem, many children simply have unhealthy diets and don't do enough exercise. It is better to stop your child becoming overweight or obese in the first place. Many parents feel guilty (or in denial) that their child is overweight and ignore it, but this will have a damaging effect on your child in many ways including their physical health, mental health and self-esteem. If your child feels bad about themselves they can comfort eat to make themselves feel better, so leading to them being more overweight - this creates a vicious circle.
You are responsible for your child's health and well-being, this includes what they eat. A healthy balanced diet (see the eatwell plate below) and exercise is the simple answer. Try to have family outings which include walking and cycling so you can all get fitter together. Being active burns more energy and the body then starts to use up its fat stores.
Use the eatwell plate to help you get the balance right. It shows how much of what you eat should come from each food group. (Recommended for children over five).
View the NEW Eat Well Guide 2016 here
Many parents are unaware of the dangers of childhood obesity but by following the top tips below you can make a difference to your child's health.
Source: Change4Life - DoH 2009 www.dh.gov.uk/obesity
The Change4Life 10 Minute Shake Up is an initiative in partnership with Disney,for families in England, particularly those with children aged 5 to 11. It aims to inspire and help children do at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day, which is the government recommendation. The 60 minutes of activity can be achieved either by doing all the activity in one session, or through several shorter bursts of activity of 10 minutes or more.
Get ideas, games, special offers and a free 10 Minute Shake Up pack containing a stopwatch, wall chart and activity cards as well as reward stickers and a host of Disney inspired fun ideas for short bursts of 10 minute exercise. Visit the Change4Life website for more details.
Salt and sugar is added to nearly all processed products. Three-quarters of the salt and sugar we eat is already in the food, the rest is what we add to cooking or shake on our meals. Children aged 7 to 10 years need less than 5g of salt a day (around 1 teaspoon).
23g sugar (5 teaspoons)
8g sugar (1.5 teaspoons)
12.4g sugar (2 teaspoons)
Below are a number of helpful links to external websites
www.bda.uk.com The British Dietetic Association’s website, food fact sheets available including healthy eating and lifestyle and weight loss
www.onelifesuffolk.co.uk Information and guidance on healthy eating and weight loss in Suffolk
www.noo.org.uk Public Health England’s site for obesity including facts and figures, causes, obesity and health, lifestyle and behaviour
www.nationalobesityforum.org.uk Provides resources and training for health professions and advice for patients
www.aso.org.uk Association for the Study of Obesity
www.nice.org.uk/Guidance/PH53 Managing overweight and obesity in adults – lifestyle weight management services
www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg43 Obesity Guidance on the prevention, identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in adults and children
www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity NHS choices link to information on obesity
www.patient.co.uk/health/obesity-and-overweight-in-adults Advice for patients on obesity and overweight.