Five steps to a healthier family

Swimming is a great activity the family can enjoy doing together
Swimming is a great activity the family can enjoy doing together

As a parent, there are lots you can do to help your child to be happy and healthy and part of this is supporting them to have a healthy weight.

Listen to your child’s concern about their weight. Overweight children often know they have a problem, and they need to feel supported and in control of their weight.

Let them know that you love them, whatever their weight, and all you want is for them to be healthy and happy.

Be a good role model

One of the best ways to instil good habits in your child is to be a good role model, as children learn by example.

Set a good example by walking or going for a bike ride instead of watching TV or surfing the internet.

Playing in the park or swimming with your children shows them being active is fun.

Get active

All children need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day for good health, but it doesn’t need to be all at once.

Several short 10-minute bursts of activity throughout the day can be just as good as an hour-long stretch.

For younger children it can take the form of active play, such as ball games, riding a scooter, and using swings, climbing frames and see-saws.

For older children it could include riding a bike, skateboarding, walking to school, skipping, swimming, dancing and martial arts.

Walking or cycling short distances instead of using the car or bus is a great way to be active together as a family – and you’ll save money, too.

Child-size portions

Try to avoid feeding your child large portions.

A good rule of thumb is to start meals with small servings and let your child ask for more if they’re still hungry.

Try not to make your child finish everything on the plate or eat more than they want to.

And avoid using adult-size plates for younger children as it encourages them to eat oversized portions.

Eat healthy meals

Children, just like adults, should aim to eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day. They’re a great source of fibre and vitamins and minerals.

Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your child’s five a day, including fresh, tinned, frozen and dried. Juices, smoothies, beans and pulses also count.

Less screen time, more sleep

Help your children avoid sitting and lying around too much, as it makes it more likely for them to put on weight.

Limit the amount of time your child spends on inactive pastimes such as watching television, playing video games and playing on electronic devices.

There’s no hard and fast advice on how much is too much, but experts advise children should watch no more than two hours of television each day – and remove all screens, including mobile phones, from their bedroom at night.

Children who don’t have the recommended amount of sleep are more likely to be overweight.