Childhood obesity

Obesity is rarely due to a medical problem

Obesity is a medical term used to describe kids (and adults) who carry 20 per cent extra body weight. This extra weight, if not treated early on, could cause serious health problems such as arthritis, cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and depression in later life. Help stop obesity before it starts by making sure they eat a balanced diet and get enough exercise.

Being overweight is rarely to do with a medical problem, many kids simply have unhealthy diets and don’t do enough exercise. It is better to prevent your child becoming overweight or obese in the first place. Many parents feel guilty (or in denial) that their child is overweight and ignore it, but this will have a damaging effect on your child in many ways including their physical health, mental health and self-esteem. If your child feels bad about themselves they can comfort eat to make themselves feel better, so leading to them being more overweight - this creates a vicious circle.

You are responsible for your child’s health and well-being, this includes what they eat. A healthy balanced diet (see the eat well plate opposite) and exercise is the simple answer to many worries about being overweight. Try to have family outings which include walking and cycling so you can all get fitter together. Being active burns more energy and the body then starts to use up its fat stores.

Dietitian says

Salt and Sugar is added to nearly all processed products. Three-quarters of the salt and sugar we eat is already in the food, the rest is what we add to cooking or shake on our meals.

Children aged 7 to 10 years need less than 5g of salt a day (2g sodium).

Juice drink

23g sugar

(5 teaspoons)

Cereal bars

8g sugar

(1.5 teaspoons)

Fromage frais

12.4g sugar

(2 teaspoons)

What can I do?

Many parents are unaware of the dangers of childhood obesity but by following the top tips below you can make a difference to your child’s health.

  1. Sugar Swaps - Swapping sugary snacks and drinks for ones that are lower in sugar can make a huge difference.
  2. Meal Time - It’s important for kids to have regular, proper meals as growing bodies respond better to routine.
  3. Snack Check - Many snacks are full of the things that are bad for us - sugar, salt, fat and calories. So try and keep a careful eye on how many the kids are having.
  4. Me Size Meals - It’s important to make sure kids get just the right amount for their age.
  5. 5 A Day - 5 portions of fruit and/or vegetables a day.
  6. Cut Back Fat - Too much fat is bad for us. It’s not always easy to tell where it’s lurking.
  7. Up and About - Most of us spend too long sitting down. Keep active. Encourage your child to walk, you may need to use child safety reins.

Source: Change4Life - DoH 2009 www.dh.gov.uk/obesity

The eatwell plate

Use the eatwell plate to help you get the balance right. It shows how much of what you eat should come from each food group. (Recommended for children over five).

Source: The Food Standards Agency www.food.gov.uk


My child looks chubby and seems to only want to eat junk food.


Do some exercise together  as a family and find out more about healthy eating.


If you are worried discuss with your GP.

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