Terry Vine: Childhood Obesity Week – how to keep your child healthy

Obesity is a problem across all age groups in the country, but can be especially problematic in young children. Growing up overweight or obese could lead to further health complications in later life.

It is for that reason that keeping our children healthy, active and eating well is incredibly important.

Research shows children who achieve a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn, and more self-confident. They’re also less likely to have low self-esteem or be bullied. And they’re much less likely to have health problems in later life.

Childhood Obesity Week runs until July 9 and aims to raise awareness among parents and children of the dangers of being above a healthy weight during childhood.

In Lincolnshire, almost a quarter of children in reception at school are classed as overweight or obese compared to the national average of 22.6%.

This rises to 35% of year six pupils being overweight or obese. Across the country, a third of pupils that age fall into that category.

A large number of different projects and interventions are being carried out in Lincolnshire to try and tackle the issue, including schemes in schools promoting healthy eating.

Whether your child is classed as overweight or you just want to keep them healthy as they grow, there are lots of simple ways to do it.

First of all, being a good role model to your child is one of the simplest ways of starting on the road to a healthier child. If you can demonstrate that you are eating healthily and being active, your child is more likely to change their habits.

Encouraging them to join you on regular walks or physical activity is also a good idea. All children need about 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 five-minute bursts of activity throughout the day can be just as good as an hour-long stretch.

Try to avoid feeding your child oversized portions. There’s very little official guidance on precisely how much food children require, so you’ll need to use your own judgement.

A good rule of thumb is to start meals with small servings and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry.

Keeping your child away from long spells in front of mobile phones, tablets or computer screens and making sure they get enough sleep is also important.

It’s been shown that children who don’t have the recommended amount of sleep are more likely to be overweight.