Research shows that children who fall within their healthy weight bracket tend to be fitter, healthier and more self-confident. They’re also more likely to build up a better self-esteem and confidence in later life. However, this does not necessarily mean that it is easy to keep your child within that healthy weight category. With an abundance of sugary and fatty foods available on the market, it is inevitable that your children will be drawn towards them. To tackle this problem, we have listed some advice from the NHS which aims to help you encourage your child to reach their healthiest weight possible, making them happier and healthier. Below are the five key steps to success.
1. Be a good role model
One way to instil good habits in your child is for you to be a good role model. Children learn by example, so you can encourage your child to eat well and stay active by doing so yourself. Set a good example by going for a walk or bike read instead of watching television or surfing the internet. Playing in the park or swimming with your children can be another great way to show them that exercising is a fun way for you the family to spend time together. Any changes you make to your child’s lifestyle are much more likely to be successful if they involve the whole family.
2. Encourage 60 minutes of physical activity everyday
Overweight children don’t need to do more exercise than slimmer children. Their extra body weight means that they will naturally burn more calories for the same activity. All children should aim to get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day for good health, but it doesn’t need to be all at once. Several short 10-minute, or even 5-minute, bursts of activity throughout the day can be just as good as an hour-long stretch. Walking or cycling short distances instead of using a car or bus is a great way to be active together as a family – and you’ll save money too!
3. Keep to child-size portions
Try to avoid over-filling your child’s plate at mealtimes. There is very little official guidance on exact portion sizes, so meal times will require parental judgement. A good idea can be to start with a small serving and let your child ask for more if they are still hungry. Avoid making your child finish everything on their plate if they are already full. It may also help if you encourage your child to eat slowly and have set mealtimes. You can use mealtimes as an opportunity to catch up on what has happened during the day.
4. Eat healthy meals, drinks and snacks
Children, just like adults, should aim to eat 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables per day. Fruit and vegetables are a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Achieving your 5-a-day shouldn’t be too difficult as almost all fruit and vegetables count towards it, including fresh, tinned, frozen and dried foods. Juices, smoothies, beans and pulses also count.
5. Less screen time and more sleep
It helps children to stay trim if they are getting enough quality sleep every night. It has been shown that children who don’t have the recommended amount of sleep are more likely to be overweight. Limiting the time your children spend on inactive pastimes like watching TV, playing video games and playing on electronic devices is likely to ensure that they will get a full, quality night’s sleep.
To find out more about your child’s weight and how to adopt some healthier lifestyle choices, visit NHS Live Well –