For most adults and children, being obese and overweight results from an energy imbalance which occurs over time. This happens when the energy (calories) we get from the food and drinks consumed (known as energy INput) exceeds the energy (calories) used for daily activities (known as energy OUTput). This energy imbalance is a result of excessive intake of food and drink, especially those high in fat, sugar and salt, as well as reduced physical activity. Parents play an important role in shaping a healthy lifestyle and an energy balance for their children. Here are some tips to do just that.

In general,

 Energy Input > Energy Output: Weight Gain

Energy Input < Energy Output: Weight Loss

Energy Input = Energy Output: Weight stays the same

Nurturing Healthy Eating Habits

Provide regular meals
Ensuring that children have regular meals will prevent them from over-eating at other times.

Avoid stocking up on snacks which are high in fat, sugar and salt at home as this may encourage unhealthy snacking among children.
Provide healthier choices such as a fruit, carrot sticks, low-fat yoghurt or wholemeal sandwiches as alternative snacks.

Look out for HCS
When buying food and drinks from the supermarket, look out for the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS). These have less fat, salt and sugar compared to other similar products.

Avoid super-sized portions.
Do not offer children adult portions. Instead give them what they need for the day. For more information on the serving sizes children need, please visit 'Birth to Eighteen Years - Dietary Tips for your child's wellbeing'.​​​

Give vegetables an interesting twist.
Getting children to eat their greens may not always be easy. Try cutting vegetables into different shapes and sizes. Use different vegetables to add colour to dishes. Apart from vegetables, also remember to let children enjoy the goodness of fruit.

Engaging Children in an Active Lifestyle

Children should have at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on 5 or more days a week. Moderate-intensity activities are those which cause a slight increase in breathing and heart rate. Examples of these activities are brisk walking, cycling, swimming and dancing. If the 60-minute recommendation sounds daunting, do not worry because it can be broken up into shorter periods of 10-15 minutes each time.

  • Make physical activity part of the daily routine.
    For instance, take the stairs instead of the lift. Take a walk to the supermarket instead of driving there or taking a bus.
  • Variety. Variety. Variety.
    Let children experience a variety of activities. This will allow them to find out more about different activities and help them discover their interest in one or some of them. Physical activities need not be limited to sports, it could even include exciting activities such as dance.
  • Limit screen time.
    Doing so will encourage children to engage in less sedentary behaviours and enable them to reap the benefits of regular physical activity. This will also help to limit their exposure to TV advertisements which promote food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt. Such advertisements may influence their food choices and result in unhealthy eating.

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