Primary School children are half a stone heavier than previous generation
A global study has reported that the average child leaving primary school is half a stone heavier (3.7kg) now than they were a generation ago.
In Britain, the average boy has a body mass index of 19.8 and the average girl 20.3, up from 18.1 and 18.5 in 1975. This means the average 11-year-old is 3.7kg heavier than 40 years ago. While their BMI is still in the healthy weight category, it highlights a worrying trend that could lead to obesity.
This isn’t just a problem in the UK, childhood malnutrition is a growing epidemic that is affecting multiple countries around the world. In addition to this, for the first time ever, countries are suffering a double burden of malnutrition that includes both undernutrition and overweight, especially in developing countries.
Growing rates of obesity are linked to serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Although not always the case, people who are overweight in childhood are more likely to become overweight and obese adults, therefore teaching healthy habits is essential from a young age.
However, with optimal support and education we can reduce childhood obesity levels. Here are a few suggestions to get children to be healthier and more active:
Getting active out of school
Children should be playing more sport and engaging with physical activities out of school, rather than just in PE lessons. We need a wide range of sports that appeals to a range of children so everyone can be confident and participate in an activity they love.
Creating a healthy community
Children must understand that being active is an important and enjoyable part of sustaining a healthy lifestyle .Parents, teachers and should be championing participating in activity and eating healthy foods to reinforce this positive behaviour.
Encouraging activity in school
Schools have a responsibility to look after the wellbeing of their pupils, this means physical wellbeing too. Schools should introduce ‘active lessons’ so children aren’t sat down for long periods of the day and include more opportunities for sport at lunch times.
Finding affordable healthy meals for the family
Processed food is readily available and often cheaper than buying a healthy meal, but these foods lack nutritional quality. They are often high in saturated fats and sugar and therefore provide very little nutrients.
Fresh fruit and vegetables, pulses, legumes, grains and lean meat are good for you and provide all the essential micro and macro nutrients necessary for positive function and development.
Although these ingredients can be more expensive, if you cook meals in batches and use the leftovers for additional meals and lunches you can make your money go further. Shopping in bulk, such as buying additional meat and freezing it, and storing food correctly can also help food last longer. In addition to this, greater education to help children to learn how to cook healthy meals is very beneficial so they can lead sustainable healthy lifestyles.
These are just a few suggestions to make life healthier and more active for children.