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Ten tips to help your kids eat healthily

Did you know that currently in the UK, nearly one in three boys and more than one in five girls aged between two and 15 are overweight or obese? It’s a scary fact – we’re walking a childhood obesity tightrope.

The World Health Organization describes obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century. And, if things continue as they are, by the year 2050, half of the UK could be obese.

All is not lost though and we can help you start taking action now. There are lots of things you can do to help your child eat well and keep a healthy weight – for now and throughout life.

Details

  • Why it matters Why it matters

    For the first time ever, there’s a possibility that children may have a shorter lifespan than their parents. This is because being overweight or obese as a child, increases your likelihood of developing serious health problems later in life. The list of complications is a long one and includes type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. And then there’s the emotional issues that may arise from being overweight, such as being teased or bullied, and increasing the risk of your child developing depression.

  • What to do if your child is putting on weight What to do if your child is putting on weight

    Bianca Parau, Senior Paediatric Dietitian at Bupa Cromwell Hospital, offers the following advice: “If your child is gaining weight, encourage them to eat a healthy diet and exercise. This is the foundation for maintaining a healthy weight. Weight loss shouldn’t be the goal – your child will grow into their weight if they follow a balanced diet alongside regular physical activity.

    “As a parent, be a positive role model and aim to make meal times happy and relaxed. If you eat a healthy diet and exercise, your child will follow the same patterns as they grow up. Teach your child to enjoy a variety of foods and encourage them to try new flavours and textures.”

  • Fad diets Fad diets

    Bianca also warns against putting your child on a fad diet: “Fad diets set you up to fail – no one can follow a fad diet for life and as soon as your child stops the diet, they will gain weight again. These types of diets also lack vital nutrients that your child needs to keep their body working at its best. Never put your child on a diet or restrict their calorie and nutrient intake before speaking to your doctor or a dietitian.”

  • Take control of your health

    Bupa health insurance aims to provide you with the care and support you need, as quickly as possible. Find out how you could benefit.

  • Bianca's top 10 healthy eating tips for kids Bianca's top 10 healthy eating tips for kids

    1. Make changes as a whole family

    Don’t single your child out or make an issue about their weight. Instead, make lifestyle changes for everyone in your family.

    2. Keep portions in proportion

    Remember, your child won’t need to eat as much as you. Offer your child appropriate-sized portions at meal times.

    3. Establish good eating habits

    Your child should eat regular meals, including breakfast, without any distractions, such as television.

    4. It’s the little things that count

    Small changes, like swapping an unhealthy snack for a piece of fruit or vegetables, can make a big difference to your child’s diet.

    5. Clear out the cupboards

    Don’t have high calorie snacks and sugary drinks in your house, and discourage continuous grazing throughout the day.

    6. Eat in or take away

    Limit the amount of take-away and fast food meals you have. Prepare and eat most of your meals at home and let your child wash the salad or chop the veg so that they feel involved.

    7. Variety is the key

    Offer your child a variety of foods to ensure that their nutritional requirements are met.

    8. Strike the right balance

    Always have a mixture of starchy foods (which includes bread, pasta, rice and potatoes), proteins (beans, meat, chicken, fish and eggs) and vegetables for your child’s lunch and evening meal Aim for one third to one half of your child’s plate to be vegetables or salad.

    9. Make exercise a habit

    Make enjoyable activities, such as walking, cycling and gardening, part of your child’s everyday life. And encourage active play such as dancing.

    10. Be the boss

    It’s up to you, as a parent, to set the standards for meals, snacks and exercise. Encourage your child but never feel guilty about what your child has eaten – make a choice, enjoy your food and move on.

  • Resources Resources

    Further information

    Sources

    • Childhood overweight and obesity. World Health Organization. www.who.int, accessed 19 February 2014
    • State of the nation’s waistline – obesity in the UK: analysis and expectations. National Obesity Forum. www.nationalobesityforum.org.uk, published January 2014
    • What are the complications of childhood obesity? Childhood Obesity Foundation. www.childhoodobesityfoundation.ca, accessed 19 February 2014
    • Obesity: guidance on the prevention, identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in adults and children. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). December 2006. www.nice.org.uk
    • What every family can do: the 5-2-1-0 rule. Childhood Obesity Forum. www.childhoodobesityfoundation.ca, accessed 19 February 2014
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