Reducing the Risk of Your Child Becoming Overweight or Obese

Having a healthy diet and sufficient physical activity is crucial to prevent your child from becoming overweight or obese.

Try and limit as many packaged and processed foods, along with limiting sweetened beverages as possible because they are high in energy but lacking in nutrients. These foods can be replaced with home cooked meals with an emphasis placed on consuming at least 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit everyday (Australian Guide to healthy eating, 2017).

Physical activity is also a key component for children to maintain a healthy weight. It is recommended for children to get at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity every day (Department of Health, 2014).

Sedentary activities (TV, computer, electronic games) should also be restricted to the following recommendations:

  • Children less than 2 years of age = 0 hrs
  • Children 2-5 years of age = less than 1 hour per day

It is essential that children learn healthy habits when they are young to carry forward into their future. These include:

  • Provide children with nutritious foods in healthy portions, including plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products.
  • Include low-fat dairy.
  • Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, lentils and beans for protein.
  • Reduce packaged and processed foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fat.
  • Encourage your family to drink plenty of water.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Encourage your child to engage in at least 60 minutes of daily physical activity.
  • Limit screen time and encourage children to be physically active.
  • Most importantly, as the most influential role-models in children’s lives, it is essential that parents model healthy habits.

Generally, children are continuously growing so it is not always necessary for them to lose weight. Instead, it is recommended to maintain their current weight as they continue to grow taller.

If you are unsure of how to help your child lose weight, or the changes you have made don’t seem to be helping, then seek support from health professionals such as your GP, dietitian or psychologist.

 

Article authors: Grace Kim, Nutritionist, Bachelor of Health Sciences, U.Q; Selina Box, BA (Psych), UQ Grad Dip Ed, QUT – Published November 2017.