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Fight against childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is now considered to be an epidemic in Australia, with 25% of children being overweight or obese. A figure that is rising at an annual rate of 1%, suggesting that half of all Australian children will be overweight by 2025.

Key factors behind this alarming increase are children eating more junk foods and less fruit & vegetables, doing less exercise & spending more time in front of digital screens.

Overweight children are more likely to suffer from poor body image, low self-esteem, sleep & eating disorders, asthma, heart problems & diabetes.

Diet & exercise habits developed in early childhood can affect their weight, health & wellbeing throughout childhood & into adult life.

Here are a few tips to get you started in the fight against childhood obesity...

ON THE FOOD FRONT

  • Ensure your child has 3 balanced meals, which include at least 3 serves of fruit & vegetables each day.
  • Switch to wholegrain instead of white breads or pastas.
  • Remember, it is not only what they eat, but how they eat that will shape their health & attitudes towards eating. Create a focused environment around mealtime routines so your child can enjoy every mouthful.
  • Offer healthy snacks & desserts at set times throughout the day. It’s OK to say no to sweet biscuits, chips & chocolate. Instead try celery sticks filled with cottage cheese, fresh fruit with natural yoghurt, sultanas, unsalted popcorn, a boiled egg, or fruit smoothies.
  • Children under 5 do not need to eat low fat dairy products. You are better off cutting out foods laden with fat, sugar & salt, or foods which have been heavily processed.
  • Make visits to fast food outlets a rarity, not the norm.

GET ACTIVE

  • Little Bubs love to kick, reach, roll & lie on their tummies. Encourage movement through massage & nappy aerobics (gently moving their limbs on the change table).
  • Encourage Big Bubs to walk more & use the pram less. Walk without a destination. That way, it doesn’t matter how long it takes to get there. Let them climb, jump, dig, dance & spin. Watch out, it’s contagious!
  • Buy presents which promote outdoor play; such as swings, balls, scooters, trampolines, kites & skipping ropes.
  • Consider joining a children’s gym, swimming, dance or soccer class. Participation in a variety of physical activities will not only benefit your child’s health; it will also give them social confidence & develop their sensory & motor skills.
  • Limit time in front of the TV and digital devices. Don’t put a TV in your child’s bedroom and don’t allow eating in front of the TV. Use the following daily limits as a guide:
    • < 1yr     No exposure
    • 1-2yr     30mins
    • 3-5yr     1hr
  • Bub's 1st Year