By Jemaa El Bahraouy
A new study suggests children are heavier than they were in the last decade. Around one in three children are overweight or obese by the time they leave primary school. Overweight children are more likely to be ill or absent from school due to illness. Many children and young people experience bullying linked to their weight. Being overweight as a child greatly increase your risk of obesity as an adult and the associated negative health impacts, but the good news is actions can be taken at every stage of childhood and even before pregnancy.
Babies born to obese women have higher risk of becoming overweight or obese, so it’s important that women childbearing age planning a pregnancy have a healthy body mass index.
During pregnancy putting on too much weight or trying to lose weight can be harmful to both the mother and the baby.
Encourage women to eat for themselves not for two people. It’s only in the final three months of pregnancy that around 200 extra calories a day are needed.
Being active is important during pregnancy. Pregnant women should continue to stay active or be encouraged to gradually start being active if currently inactive. Aim for 150 minutes moderate intensity activity a week.
Once the baby is born, it is important to support families to breastfeed. Increasing the number of babies who are breastfed gives babies the best possible start. If parents feel that their baby is not satisfied with their usual milk feeds, they should give addition milk feeds rather than giving solids too early.
At around six months old, babies will need to start solid foods. Variety in a baby’s diet is important. It’s a great time to explore lots of different flavors and textures. All children should be encouraged to be physically active from birth. From birth to age 5, at least 180 minutes spread throughout the day. Then from age 5 to 18, it’s important to be active for at least 60 minutes and up to several hours every day.
The eat well guide shows what a healthy balanced diet should look like. Parents should ensure portions sizes are appropriate. Start meals with small servings and let children ask for more if they are still hungry.
Childhood obesity is a global issue; an issue that starts before birth and contuse to adulthood. With those recommendations we can try to prevent or reduce obesity.