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Do your kids nag you about your diet and lifestyle?

Publish date: 30/06/2015

41 percent pester powerDo your children ask you pointedly whether you need that next glass of wine, or suggest that you get out of the house more at weekends? Well you're not alone, as our recent research reveals that teenagers and young adults are pestering their parents to be healthier.

Why? Because they love you

Two fifths of teenagers and young adults are badgering their parents because they're concerned about their future health. Two thirds of this age group have resorted to pestering because they worry that their parents are at risk of getting ill if they carry on with their current health habits, and a quarter offer health advice because one of their friend's parents are already ill.

When we consider the findings from our previous research, which shows that almost half of those in middle age aren't making any positive health changes, the younger generation's concern seems justified. Over half of children are worried about upsetting their parents, and suggest making healthier changes gently to avoid hurting their feelings. Some avoid confrontation by taking matters into their own handshiding junk food, cooking healthier meals or planning walks.

Encouragingly, a third of children say these tactics are working and that their parents said that they eventually made some healthier changes.A quarter of parents tried to make changes, even if they didn't last. But a fifth of parents hadn't made any changes at all.

Make your kids happy

When you have a family to take care of, a house to look after and a job to go to it can be tricky to find time to make healthy changes. Try not to get upset when your children pick you up on your health habits. They only have your interests at heart and they may even be providing some valuable advice. It's amazing how quickly small changes can transform your overall wellbeing.

Our Head of Proactive Health, Dr Chris Tomkins, has suggested these top tips for busy parents:

  • Introduce or increase your levels of physical activity. Aim to do at least 30 minutes a couple of days per week in any form - walking, swimming, and perhaps why not train as a family to do a fun run? Introduce more exercise gradually and you will quickly feel yourself improving. Large clinical studies have shown that if you can sustain 150 minutes of physical activity each week, this can give tremendous benefits to your health.
  • Reduce your meat consumption and introduce more vegetables into your favourite family recipes to boost their nutritional value - for example, use a smaller pack of mincemeat in your bolognaise and bulk it out with mushrooms, courgettes or sweetcorn.
  • Set aside time for yourself to unwind and relax, be it going for a walk or going to bed 10 minutes earlier to read a book.
  • Establish a regular night-time routine.. Switch off the telly, avoid the lure of computers/tablets and mobiles.
  • If you smoke - stop before your children pick up the habit. If they're already pestering you, that's great. There's plenty of help available to make this change. It will start to benefit your health straightaway.

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