Many children today lead much less active lives than previous generations, spending more time in front of computers and TV rather than playing outside. Eating habits have changed too. It’s not often you hear of families sitting down together at meal times with a freshly cooked meal. Instead parents are simply going for quick ready meals and takeaways, which are normally loaded with bad fats, salt and sugar. It’s not always possible to share every meal together, but when you are home, try to at least sit down with the children while they have their meal to support them in good eating practices, such as eating slowly and enjoying their food. The snacks that children eat have also changed over time, with them now eating more sweets, chocolate and drinking on high sugar drinks.
A problem I see most often in adults as much as children is the huge portions we serve up. We tend to judge portion sizes from habit. We can guess how much a child needs, but you may be giving them too much and recent research found portion sizes have doubled in 20 years. As a general rule, a portion of meat should be no bigger than the palm of your hand, Carbs such as pasta should be no bigger than a clenched fist and a serving of butter is the size of a fingertip with cheese less than two fingers.
Many more children are overweight than a generation ago and if this goes unchecked they will remain that way into adulthood. This could lead to big health problems including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.
Research shows that children who are within a healthy weight range are usually fitter, more confident, suffer from less illness and are less likely to be bullied in school.