Obesity rates are always making headlines, and with good reason. This week the Royal Society for Public Health revealed that only 1 in 5 parents find the information they receive from school about their child’s weight useful, and have called for new measures to help tackle child obesity. Around 1 in 10 reception-age children and a fifth of those leaving primary schools are obese, figures which are extremely alarming. Helping your child to stay healthy should begin at home, so what can you do to keep your family fit and healthy?

What the RSPH are proposing

As the so-called ‘fat letters’ are proving to be ineffective, the RSPH are calling for different measures to help parents tackle their child’s obesity, with recommendations such as:

  • Schools should trial vouchers for healthy eating and afterschool activities in order to better educate children about nutrition and keeping active.
  • Taking better advantage of Change4Life so that parents can receive more useful information about diet and exercise.
  • Telephoning parents before they receive any letters about their child.

They are also calling for:

  • Junk food advertising restrictions, particularly online.
  • Increasing activity levels in schools through ‘fun and play’ time of a minimum of an hour a day.
  • The food industry to play their part through redeveloping and producing products to make them healthier, and also to introduce a ‘sugar tax’ on soft drinks with high sugar content.

The RSPH acknowledges that finding a solution requires a lot of input, especially when it comes to helping parents better educate their children on healthier eating. Speaking about the proposals, Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “It is unacceptable that one in five children leave primary school classed as obese and we must all pull together to reverse this worrying trend.” By pulling together resources and developing new ideas, it is hoped that the levels of child obesity can be reduced.

What you can do to tackle obesity

There are many things which you can do to help provide your children with a healthier lifestyle, and to educate them about food and being active. Some great suggestions include:

  • Getting your children to help in the kitchen – getting your children to help prepare healthy, home-cooked meals will help teach them vital kitchen skills which will help benefit them in later life, getting them used to not eating processed foods. We all have busy schedules but if everyone pitches in, making a meal at home can be much easier (and satisfying) than expected.
  • Getting more active with your children – It’s all too easy to sit around watching telly as a family, and whilst this could be a great bonding activity, it’s important that you all get out of the house once in a while. Go for a walk, play some games in the park, or even riding a bike together can be enjoyable whilst not over-exhorting. Activities needn’t cost money and are a great way to spend time together as a family.
  • Preparing healthy lunches for your children – if you prefer to make packed lunches for your children, make sure they’re healthy ones. Avoid packing their boxes with sugary, fatty snacks and instead encourage them to eat healthier through packing salads, fruit, and nuts. Try to choose meals which are filling, such as those with slow releasing carbohydrates, keeping them fuller for longer and less likely to mean they ask for biscuits and crisps when they come home.
  • Control portion size – It can be easy to forget that children need smaller portions than adults, so be sensible with their portion sizes. Everyone can benefit from smaller portions, and you can always add a bowl of salad or extra vegetables if they are still hungry.

Taking steps to reduce childhood obesity is important, and could avoid serious health concerns for your child later down the line including heart disease and obesity. For more great ideas on making a permanent change for the health and wellbeing of your family, head to the Change4Life website.