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Trick or treat?

Publish date: 12/03/2014

trick-or-treat

Consider the consequences before you spoil your kids with sweets 

It's natural to want to spoil your children, but using food and snacks to show your love can lead to long term health problems.

Latest available figures reveal more than one in five (22.5%) reception age children are now either overweight or obese and by Year 6 this figure rises to 33.5%.1 

Why weight matters 

‘Childhood obesity is a particularly worrying trend – as it sets children up for health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life,’ says registered dietitian Nicole Rothband, a spokeswoman for the British Dietetic Association. 

A recent report by Diabetes UK reveals that obesity is the biggest risk factor for developing Type 2 diabetes in the future.2

Other future health risks include asthma, musculoskeletal (or bone, joint and muscle) problems and even psychological problems, according to Public Health England.3 

5 easy healthy eating habits 

  • Eat together as a family - ‘Set a good example and eat healthily yourself. Cooking family meals gets children into the habit of regular eating rather than continual grazing,’ says Nicole. 
  • Ditch ready meals and takeaways - ‘Cook from scratch where possible – it gives you more control over the amount of fat, sugar and salt content,' she adds. 
  • Move more - Children under five should be physically active for at least 3 hours a day and children aged 5 to 18 need a minimum of 60 minutes a day of aerobic activity, according to NHS guidelines. 'Limit the amount of time your children spend in front of the TV and on mobile phones, tablets or computers,’ says Nicole. ‘Encourage them to walk to school, take them to the park to play and get them involved in sports.' 
  • Have an early night - Lack of sleep can contribute to weight gain so try and get them in the habit of going to sleep earlier.4 
  • Snack healthily - Snack on fruit or homemade plain popcorn and add your own healthy flavourings such as cinnamon or spices. Offer cereal bars made with dates ‒ they taste like toffee but have lots of fibre, vitamins and minerals, and help your child feel full for longer. For more information on obesity, see our factsheet. Have concerns about your child’s health? Ask one of our experts. 

1 http://www.hscic.gov.uk/article/5240/Highest-rates-of-childhood-obesity-in-those-living-in-deprived-areas 

2 https://www.diabetes.org.uk/Documents/Position%20statements/Facts%20and%20stats%20June%202015.pdf 

3 http://www.noo.org.uk/NOO_about_obesity/child_obesity 4 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijpo.229/abstract

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