Childhood obesity in spotlight

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National Childhood Obesity Week is from 6-12 July this year and aims to raise awareness of the dangers of being overweight or obese during childhood.

The statistics around childhood obesity are pretty shocking, with nearly a quarter of children leaving primary school considered to be obese, a numbers on the rise.

Many parents don’t spot if their child is overweight and believe that they will eventually grow out of their ‘puppy fat’, but this isn’t always the case. Between 40-70% of obese children will grow up to be obese adults, spelling bad news for their future risk of health problems like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease as well as their quality of life.

Many factors contribute to this national problem, including the types of foods children eat, portion sizes and their activity levels.

Heart Research UK are putting sugary snacks in the spotlight as these high energy foods are easy to over consume, contributing to weight gain and high in blood glucose levels which increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

It’s surprising how much sugar is hidden in everyday foods that children love, like tomato ketchup, baked beans and even bread. Use traffic light labelling to watch out for high sugar foods, and follow our tips to slash the sugar in your children’s diets.

Breakfast:-

Swap sugary children’s cereals for unsweetened oat or a bran-based cereal.

Be sure to read labels carefully as foods may contain more sugar than you thought, and serving sizes can sometimes be misleading.

Make breakfast more interesting by adding dried fruits like apricots and raisins or fresh fruits like strawberries or chopped banana to cereal or porridge

Sweet treats:-

If your children are used to snacking on sweets and chocolates, swap the habit for some healthy dried fruit or unsalted nuts instead.

Swap processed cakes, biscuits and pastries for home-made treats like flapjack and fruit loaf. Adding fruit to your baking will give some natural sweetness without the need for all that extra sugar.

Fruit kebabs are a colourful way towards your child’s 5-a-day. Get them involved putting chunks of melon, strawberries, pineapple and grapes onto skewers. Different colours mean different vitamins and minerals so encourage them to eat a rainbow.

Go savoury instead and give your child raw vegetable sticks like cucumber, carrots and peppers or cheese and crackers. A sweet tooth is something we develop, so keep theirs in check from a young age, but remember to look out for hidden salt too.

Stay hydrated - Did you know that 30% of added sugar comes from drinks – the highest contributor of added sugar?

Swap fizzy drinks and sugary squash for plain water, semi-skimmed milk or one small glass of unsweetened fresh fruit juice per day

Homemade smoothies make a refreshing sweet treat packed with all the goodness of fruit fibre and vitamins which make them count towards your child’s 5-a-day. On hot summer days, try freezing your smoothies and make your own fruity ice lollies to keep your little ones cool.

We all want to ensure our children are getting enough food, but quality food is important too to give them all the nutrients they need to grow and develop. Instill good habits in your children by being a good role model; you may be consuming too much sugar too. Remember to check the labels on foods you buy and don’t be tempted to add extra sugar yourself.

For more information and advice about healthy living,

contact Heart Research UK on 0113 297 6206 or email lifestyle@heartresearch.org.uk.

HELPING HEARTS THROUGH THE PREVENTION, TREATMENT AND CURE OF HEART DISEASE