Here we look at the dangers of obesity in very young children, why it’s crucial to avoid it and how parents and carers can help. Some statistics will help focus the mind on why this is so important.
Childhood Obesity – the Shocking Statistics
Virtually one in every three children aged 2 to 15 is overweight or obese.
More and more children are becoming obese at younger and younger ages. Statistics show that, once obese, children are far more likely to remain so longer term.
Obesity DOUBLES the risk of dying early.
What’s more, people are more likely to suffer from depression and heart disease if they are obese.
The risk of obese adults developing Type 2 diabetes is SEVEN times greater.
That’s another shocking statistic. Here’s another:
Under-fives from low-income families are TWICE as likely to become obese. Eleven year olds are THREE times more likely to do so.
That’s why children living in deprived, low-income areas tend to experience an unfairly high level of weight issues, along with the health problems that are associated with them.
It’s clear that childhood obesity needs to be avoided if at all possible. So, what can be done?
Avoiding Childhood Obesity – How to Help Little Ones
Generally speaking, the avoidance of childhood obesity comes down to a good balance between two key things; regular exercise and a healthy diet. Parents can help children in both areas.
Regular exercise is a great tool in the fight against obesity in children, as well as in adults of course. Excess calories that would otherwise be stored as fat can be burned off through exercise. Exercise, when done regularly, is more likely to speed up the metabolism, making the burning of calories more efficient (i.e. easier).
Exercise also has a number of additional, important benefits including improving general fitness, building stronger bones and muscles, reducing the risk of heart disease, depression and Type 2 diabetes as well as improving sleep quality. Perhaps surprisingly, research suggests that regular exercise and sport is also likely to improve academic performance. And, of course, active sports and group exercise opportunities are great for social interaction and bonding with peers — that’s beneficial for children of all ages.
So, the message for parents and carers of young children is to encourage them to get active. Too much sitting looking at electronic screens like tablets, phones, computers and TVs is detrimental to their health. Regular, energetic, physical games and activities are good and, of course, sport is a great way to exercise while having fun. Getting children outdoors is also a way to encourage more active play.
A Healthy Diet
In tandem with regular exercise, children’s diets need to be balanced and healthy. So, they need to eat healthy foods and in the right amounts. Junk food should be avoided. Indeed, the Government’s “Plan for Action” to help fight childhood obesity aims to reduce children’s exposure to the advertising of junk food. The scheme has also included measures to cut sugar levels in food and soft drinks and even to stop unhealthy foods from being displayed near supermarket checkouts. The scheme was launched in recent years to combat the childhood obesity issues that seem to have become so prevalent in the UK in recent years. Another key aim is to reduce the strain on the NHS caused by obesity, which is significant:
The NHS spends more on the treatment of obesity and diabetes than it spends on the police, fire service and judicial system combined.
So, parents and carers of children can help by carefully choosing what their children eat and drink. Junk food is to be avoided. Sugary drinks too. High-sugar foods like biscuits, cakes, ice cream, confectionery and sugary cereals should only be given as occasional treats, if at all. Portion sizes should also be right for the size and age of the child in question. In regard to food groups, 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day are much more suitable, along with some protein, dairy and some starch. The balance of the food types children eat needs to be right for them. We’ll write a separate, more detailed post about healthy eating for little ones in due course. It’ll include guidance on portion sizes, food groups and more, so watch this space.
How Leaps & Bounds Nursery Helps to Combat Childhood Obesity
Leaps & Bounds Nursery understands all of this and indeed you can read all about our healthy eating and exercise mission in our Healthy Eating & Getting Active post from last year. In a nutshell, it explains how we ensure that children accomplish just the right amount of physical activity every day, avoid sedentary activities, eat healthy food and drink and even any snacks are carefully chosen, healthy choices. Our incredible equipment, facilities and Forest School also, of course, encourage active play, much of it in the outdoors to keep children’s minds and bodies at their most healthy.
An Outstanding Nursery, Pre-School & Forest School in Edgbaston, Birmingham
If you are looking for the very best start for your baby or child under five, look no further than Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. We are an outstanding nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham, Ladywood, Bearwood, Harborne and Smethwick. We also have our own Birmingham Forest School so children have ample access to the Great Outdoors and everything that the natural world can offer a young child. Our weekday childcare services are on offer from Monday to Friday for babies, toddlers and children under five. Call 0121 246 4922 or book a visit or call-back here for further details.