The two main causes of childhood obesity are over-eating and under-exercising. An unhealthy diet with too much sugar and fat, coupled with a lack of physical activity, too much time sitting with their phones or other electronic gadgets, inevitably leads to weight gain and an increased risk of many future health problems including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, heart and liver disease. Being overweight is also associated with psychological stress associated with low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, especially if bullying also occurs.
How can you help?
* Make an appointment with your GP to see where your son or daughter fits within the normal childhood growth charts.
* Give your child has a cooked lunch at school. You then have control over the ingredients and portion sizes. Include at least one piece of fruit, and avoid fizzy drinks and high-calorie convenience foods such as snack bars, chocolate and crisps.
* Sit down with your child and plan family dinners that are healthy. And if they help prepare the meal, they are more likely to eat the healthier options they’ve put together.
* Discourage snacking while watching TV.
* Limit sedentary activities such as watching TV, playing video games or surfing the Internet. Go out for walks, to throw a ball around, cycle or swim as a family at least one or two evenings a week, as well as at weekends. Use the car less – can your children walk or cycle to school rather than going by car or bus? Find out if there are any healthy after-school activities your child could join to make new friends and learn new sports.