When your child is overweight

content supplied by NHS Choices

If you've learned that your child is overweight, there are simple steps you can take, with support if you want it, to help your child move towards a healthy weight.

If you want to know whether your child is a healthy weight, use our interactive Healthy weight calculator. The calculator is suitable for children aged two and above.

 

Your child’s weight matters, because it can affect their health now and in the future.

Overweight children are more likely to grow up into overweight adults, who face all the health risks that carrying excess weight can bring.

If your child is overweight, it's time to take action.

Take action

The good news is that there are steps you can take that will set your child on the road to a healthy weight.

If your child is very overweight, or if they have other health conditions, it’s a good idea to ask for support. Your GP can help (see below).

Children are growing, so it’s usually not necessary for overweight children to lose weight. Instead, it is usually better that the child maintains their current weight while they continue to grow in height. This will depend on how overweight your child is, and other factors.

If you’re unsure about this or other issues, ask for advice from your GP or practice nurse.

Change as a family

A healthy, balanced diet and plenty of physical activity will lead to a healthy weight for your child.

Making changes to your family’s lifestyle can make a real difference to your child’s weight. These changes work best, and are easiest, when the whole family joins in.

Regular meals, eaten together and without distractions (such as TV) are a great first step towards a healthier diet. Cooking yourself rather than relying on ready-made meals can help you to lower the fat and sugar content in your meals.

You can learn more about a healthy diet in Food and diet.

If your family eats snacks that are high in fat or sugar, such as chocolate, biscuits, sweets and fizzy drinks, aim to replace these with healthier alternatives such as fruit.

Children should get at least one hour of moderate physical activity every day. In Get active with your kids you can read about ideas that will get the whole family moving.

Aim to reduce the amount of time your child spends on inactive hobbies, such as watching television and playing video games.

It’s also important to help your child develop a positive body image and good self-esteem. Habits in childhood will remain as they grow into adults, so praise them when they try healthier foods or when they swap a sedentary activity for an active one.

You can learn more about the lifestyle changes that can help your child at the Change4Life website.

Your child at school

The school that your child attends should support you in helping your child to achieve a healthy weight.

All schools should provide opportunities for physical activity, and healthy food at lunch time. Some schools will also help to ensure that your child does not bring unhealthy foods to school, by working with parents to set guidelines on packed lunches.

If your child is overweight, you can talk to your child's teachers about your plans to help your child achieve a healthy weight, and how the school can support this.

You’ll find ideas for healthy packed lunches in our section on healthy lunchboxes.

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