National Childhood Obesity Week – Monday 7th July – Sunday 13th July 2014

Why are so many of the children in today’s society obese. Childhood obesity occurs when children and adolescents are above the normal body weight for their age and height. Obese children are at risk for many long-term problems usually seen in adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, heart disease and strokes asthma, thyroid problems, and liver disease.

Obesity can cause problems for a child’s healthy growth and development. The main causes of most cases of obesity are unhealthy eating and genetic factors. Children may become obese as a result of an underlying medical condition or injury, eating poor diets, inactivity and some medications like steroids. As a parent, it is important to set good examples and for some it may mean a lifestyle and behaviour change. Set goals and giving rewards and praise for their success, but make sure these aren’t food-related. Instead, try rewarding them by doing an activity they enjoy. To improve our child’s health we need to focus on healthy food choices to encourage children to see the importance of this lifestyle. Utilising fruits and vegetables as snack items can be a great way to get your children eating healthier. Make a point to keep your fridge stocked with things like broccoli, spinach, carrots, apples and oranges. Look for breads, pastas and cereals made with whole grains. In many cases, you can also find products in this category that have also been fortified with calcium and fibre. Choose lean meats such as chicken breasts, turkey breasts, fish and seafood. It’s best to stick to water and skimmed or non-fat milk when looking for beverage choices. Fruit juices, sodas and most other drinks contain tons of sugar and calories. Even worse, these liquid calories are digested more quickly, so children can drink a ton of soda or juice without feeling full at all. Getting your children involved is a great way to show them the importance of these habits Always involve your children in cooking dinner, whether it’s setting the table, chopping up vegetables or tossing a salad, it’s important to show children that cooking is not only a part of a normal routine, but that it’s also fun. The really important thing to remember is that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Children also need to stay active and motivated to exercise outside the house such as cycling, fly kites in a park, walks around your neighbourhood, play hide-and-seek, using a skipping rope, playing hop-scotch and school sports other active recreation, and make the most of opportunities for exercise at school,  these are all good forms of exercise. Children over the age of five need to do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day. Reduce the amount of time your child spends watching television or using a computer. Try to limit this to less than two hours a day or 14 hours a week. Margaret Moody