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10 tips to prevent childhood obesity

Obesity has become quite common among children, starting with around 1 in 10 reception children being obese.

Overweight and obese children have a higher risk of becoming overweight teenagers and adults. They also have a greater risk of developing heart disease and diabetes later in life.

Obesity among teenagers is fairly common in the UK, with around one in five 11-15 year olds being obese.

Being overweight can also lead to bullying, stress and low self-esteem.

10 tips to prevent childhood obesity

There are many things that a parent can do to prevent obesity in their child, including:

  • Respect your child's appetite; children do not have to finish everything on their plate, or finish the entire bottle.
  • Provide your child with a healthy, balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables (5-a-day), and cut down on food containing bad fats.
  • Avoid pre-prepared foods and foods with added sugar.
  • Provide enough fibre.
  • Limit the amount of high- calorie foods kept in the home.
  • Do not reward completion of meals with sweet desserts.
  • Replace whole milk with semi-skimmed milk at about two years of age.
  • Enjoy physical activities as a family, such as walking, swimming and playing outdoor games. The Department of Health says pre-school to primary school children should do three hours exercise a day once they can walk. Five to 18 year olds are encouraged to do an hour to several hours a day of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity. Three days a week this should include vigorous intensity activities to strengthen muscle and bone.
  • Encourage your child to participate in active play.
  • Limit television watching. Parents are also urged to cut the amount of time this age group (5-18 year olds) is inactive, dragging them away from TV and video games for example.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on December 22, 2015

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