Is your child overweight? Identify the problem early and do something about it
We're really lucky to have a very good quality local newspaper, Kensington Chelsea and Westminster Today, which I always find an exceptionally good read. I am often surprised at how much is going on.
Dr Isabelle Benard, General and Family Practitioner who practises at The Medical Chambers Kensington, contributes advice on medical conditions which she regularly sees in her practice here and I thought that some of these articles would interest you. So here is the first...
It is a shocking truth that a third of children in England are now either overweight or obese. It has almost become the norm and amazingly, most parents do not recognise the problem and believe that their child will grow out of their "puppy fat". Sadly, this is not true as 70% of overweight 11 year olds will grow into obese adults. A healthy weight early in life is very important.
If in doubt, please check your child's body mass index (weight in relation to height), using charts relevant to children, like this one.
If the readings show that your child is overweight or obese, take this seriously. See your doctor to discuss the findings and build a plan to help your child achieve a healthy weight.
Top tips for a healthy lifestyle:
- Move! Children should spend at least an hour a day exerting themselves. Set a good example, walk as much as possible with your child. Encourage them to run, use a scooter or a bike and avoid the pushchair. Playgrounds are perfect for your child to be active.
- Reduce the time spent in front of screens. No more than two hours daily.
- Teach your child to drink water, without anything added to it. No more squash or soft drinks. Fruit juices should only be given very occasionally (too sweet).
- Have regular meals, at the table. Children who eat most meals with their family are less likely to be overweight.
- Home cooking is best. You will use healthier ingredients and less salt, fat and sugar than in most supermarket food. Your child will learn by watching you cook.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, 5 or more servings daily. Fruits eaten whole are much healthier than juiced or in smoothies (very high in sugar). Have fruit for dessert instead of pudding. Vegetables can be eaten raw, steamed, cooked, mashed and taste differently each time!
- Avoid sugar and most things sweet. Sugar is transformed into fat and will affect your child's weight.
- Choose snacks wisely. Avoid biscuits and cakes. Try fruits, peanut butter, dark chocolate with bread, carrot sticks with hummus, cheese on toast, nuts and seeds mix.
- Portion sizes: children should have smaller portions than adults. Try using smaller plates to help.
These are simple rules but you may find that implementing them in your routine will make a big difference to your child's eating habits and lifestyle and help them achieve a healthy weight now as well as later in life.
Dr Isabelle Benard MD General Practitioner