Tackling childhood obesity
Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the UK – the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMS) found in 2011-12 that 19.2% of year six children in England were obese. Figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland show similar rates across the UK.
Tackling obesity among children in the UK means helping them to better understand how to eat healthily and encourage them to have more active lives – less eating fast food and watching TV, more healthy meals and playing sports.
National Obesity Awareness Week aims to help young people to learn more about eating right and keeping active. We’ve worked with a wide range of supporters to provide information and tips specially designed for children and young people.
On 12 July 2013, the Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, published the independent School Food Plan. The Plan’s authors, Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent, were charged with answering two questions:
(1) How do we get our children eating well in school?
(2) What role should cooking and food play more broadly in schools, to enrich children’s home lives and leave a legacy for later life?
The resulting School Food Plan lays out sixteen clear actions to be implemented across policy and across the whole school food sector. The actions range from making cooking and food education compulsory up to the age of 14 in the new National Curriculum, to launching a dedicated task force bringing together public and private sector partners to investigate the particular challenges faced by small schools. The Plan emphasises the importance of the Head teacher leading the change, adopting a whole school approach, and focusing on the things that children care about.
The Plan also included one recommendation for Government: to begin a phased roll out of universal free school meals for all primary pupils. Since the Plan was published, the Government has now announced that free school meals will be available for all pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2 beginning in September 2014.
You can find out more at www.schoolfoodplan.com – take five minutes to watch the summary film.
For updates on the Plan’s implementation, along with information on the Government’s universal free school meals policy, click here to join the School Food Plan mailing list.
Children's healthy living competition
National Obesity Awareness Week, children’s food expert and leading cookery author Annabel Karmel and Disney are hosting a nationwide healthy living competition for children and young people across the UK.
Thank you for all of your entries, we have had a great response from you! However, the competition for this year's National Obesity Awareness Week is now closed.
Need some advice on how to keep your child eating healthily and staying active? The British Heart Foundation, MoreLife, HENRY and Stadia Sports are here to do just that for you.
British Heart Foundation
We all know that children can be fussy eaters and reluctant to exercise – as can some adults!
But learning about healthy eating and doing the right amount of physical activity is important if your child is going to grow up with a reduced risk of heart disease.
The British Heart Foundation can help you find out more about how to manage your child’s weight, keep them active, and make healthy eating fun!
Click here for more information.
Health, Exercise, Nutrition for the Really Young
Courses For Parents
HENRY knows that parents want the best for their children but in today’s busy, fast-food society a healthy family lifestyle isn’t always easy. HENRY offers courses for parents of babies and young children all over the country to help give their kids a healthy start in life and improve the healthiness of the whole family’s lifestyle. Independent research has shown that parents who join a HENRY group achieve and maintain improvements to the lifestyle of their whole family including better diet and more exercise. Find out if there is a HENRY course in your area starting soon at the link below. If you can’t join a group or there isn’t one locally then HENRY offers an online e-learning course to help parents give their kids a healthy start in life. www.henry.org.uk/lets-get-healthy-with-henry
MoreLife work with children and adults all around the country to help them lose a little weight and learn to live more healthily. We’ve made a special activity sheet for National Obesity Awareness Week 2014 all about getting the right balance of food in our diet. Click here to view our Eatwell Plate.
But remember – it’s important to remember that calories aren’t only in what we eat – they’re also in what we drink!
Calories in drinks don’t tend to make us feel full, so it can be quite easy to consume extra calories from drinks without realising it. Soft drinks can be very high in sugar. Did you know that one can of pop can contain ten teaspoonfuls of sugar? Imagine adding this much sugar to a tea or coffee! Next time you’re standing at the vending machine think twice…
According to a recent study children play outdoors half as much as their parents did when they were young. This is a worrying trend but nothing we can’t change. Helping your children to get active and keeping fit yourself as a parent does not need to be a gruelling task. If it is and you set yourself unrealistic targets, this usually makes maintaining a healthy lifestyle unsustainable. That’s why it’s important to remember that you can make a difference to your health without taking on unmanageable goals.
Managing your goals
We want to show you that preventing obesity and leading a healthy lifestyle can be based around realistic goals for parents and children. You do not need to assign yourself a stringent exercise regime that is going to be difficult to maintain. We all lead hectic lifestyles and so it is important to set targets that will not be hampered by working hours or other activities. And it does not simply need to be the case of joining a gym. This is not the only way to get fit and healthy. Making beneficial changes to your health can be based around physical activity, not exercise. It’s an important lesson to learn.
Physical activity together as a family
There are simple physical activities that families can enjoy together. And yes, we said enjoy, this does not need to be a traumatic experience. Below are a range of physical activities that can help you and your children to get active:
- Take a walk in the evening after dinner.
- Go on a relaxing bicycle ride at the weekend.
- Walk or bicycle with your child to school.
- If you drive your child to school then park further away from the entrance and walk the rest of the distance.
- Go for a swim together.
- Do family chores together as these can help to keep parents and children fit too!
These types of physical activity will not leave you a sweaty mess, but if you keep doing them at a reasonable pace then you will feel the benefits. Not all of these activities will be applicable for everyone, but they should still give you a good idea of what you can do together as a family to get fit and healthy. If it’s wet and windy, which we all know happens all too often, consider indoor options. There are local centres that provide fun physical activities, and with technology such as the Wii there are computer games that promote physical activity.
Tips to make it last
We don’t want you to set unrealistic goals and we don’t want being healthy to be a horrible task. So take a look at the following tips to make sure that the physical activity you choose for your family is not a hassle:
- Set fitness goals that are realistic and which do not place too much pressure on family members.
- Find physical activities that you enjoy as these are much easier to maintain.
- Join up with other parents and children. Playing together can be great for team-building and maintaining physical activity.
- Praise, encourage and remain positive. Do not push too hard as this will take the enjoyment out of the experience and make failure more likely.
- Lead by example as children learn by watching what their parents do.
- Go out for a day of fun activities.
- Make a pack lunch and go to the local park with a bag full of balls, skipping ropes, tennis rackets and whatever you fancy, then let physical activity commence.
Once you get into the routine of regular physical activity as a family and begin to realise the benefits this is having on your health, finding the motivation to keep going will be much easier. The improvements will not happen overnight, but if you remember to set realistic goals and choose activities that are actually fun, keeping up with regular physical activity will be much easier to maintain.
Change4Life has lots of meal ideas and a free Smart Recipes app of quick and healthier recipes. For more information visit: https://smartswaps.change4life.co.uk/
In this section we have some tasty and healthy recipes from author and expert on nutritious meals for young people, Annabel Karmel. Take a look at the variety on offer and see what you can get cooking today!
I know how difficult it can be to juggle modern life with raising a happy, healthy family. However, cooking good, wholesome meals doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. I have some inspirational recipes for fun, quick and healthy meals that everyone will love.
A good breakfast sets us up for the day and gives you the energy you need until lunchtime. But lots of us are missing out on our morning fuel or choosing options that are high in sugar or fat. Here are my favourite breakfast recipes to give you the get up and go!
Whether you spend lunchtimes at school, work or at home, it’s important to ensure you are enjoying a healthy, balanced meal that keeps you alert throughout the afternoon. Of course, we also need something that we look forward to eating, so here are some tasty lunch recipes that will tickle your tastebuds.
The key to preparing balanced evening meals that everyone will love is all in the preparation. Weekends are the perfect time to plan for the weekend ahead; think about what you can prepare in advance and get the whole family involved. View my dinner recipes here. A little tip – frozen veg can be cheaper than fresh, but are just as nutritious, so stock up on the good stuff.
For lots more quick and easy recipe ideas, visit www.annabelkarmel.com