You can do a lot as a parent or guardian to help your child achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Staying active and consuming nutritious foods and beverages are critical for your child’s health. But worry not, you can play an active role in assisting your child and your entire family in developing healthy habits.
Overweight children are more likely to carry excess weight into adulthood. Adults who are overweight are more likely to develop health problems such as heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Ways to assist your child in developing healthy habits:
Adoption of healthy eating habits by the entire familyHealthy habits are formed at home. It is easier to prevent and treat childhood obesity if the entire family commits to a healthy eating plan. It will also be much easier for the overweight or obese child to make long-term changes, if the entire family is involved. This is also known as setting a good example. A child who observes his or her parents eating more fruits and vegetables, being active, and limiting TV time is more likely to follow suit.
Discuss with your child what it means to be healthy and how to make healthy choicesTalk about how physical activities, as well as specific foods and beverages, can help their bodies become stronger and healthier.
Children should get at least one hour of physical activity per day and limit their screen time (computers, television, and mobile devices) outside of school to no more than two hours per day.
Make sure your child gets enough sleepWhile research into the relationship between sleep and weight is ongoing, some studies link excess weight in children and adults to a lack of sleep.
Ways to improve your child’s eating habits to fight obesity
Aside from consuming fewer high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt foods, drinks, and snacks, you can encourage your child to eat healthier by providing these options more frequently:
Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains such as brown rice
Instead of high-fat meat, choose lean meats, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, soy products, and eggs
Instead of whole milk or cream, choose fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products or milk substitutes such as soy beverages with added calcium and vitamin D
Instead of milkshakes or ice cream, try fruit and vegetable smoothies made with fat-free or low-fat yoghurt
Portion sizes should be kept under control. Excessive amounts of anything can lead to weight gain. Smaller dishes should be used to keep portions under control. Food could be served in plates and bowls in the kitchens to avoid second helpings. Portion sizes can also be reduced by ordering smaller orders when dining out
Food labels must be read carefully. These may also reveal information about calories, ingredients, and portion sizes
Sodas and sugary drinks should be avoided at all costs. Instead, serve sparkling water with a twist of lime or a splash of fruit juice to a child.