Parents play an important role in setting a good foundation for their children's dietary habits. Here are some practical tips for healthy eating for parents to reduce overweight risks in children.
Children and adolescents need energy for growth and development. Food (energy input) provides energy for daily activities (energy output). When a child overeats and does not have adequate exercise, the excess energy is stored as fat in his body. This can lead to unhealthy weight gain and the child may then become overweight or obese.
If you are not sure if your child’s weight is within a healthy range, look at their Body Mass Index (BMI)-For-Age. However, take note that while BMI is measured the same for adults and children, they are interpreted differently.
Overweight and obese children with higher BMI may also develop childhood hypertension and diabetes.
Studies have shown that young children who are overweight are more likely to become overweight adults. Overweight adults, especially those with a high body fat percentage, are at an increased risk of developing diseases such as:
Overweight children may also be teased by their friends. This may affect their self-esteem and self-confidence.
As a parent, you play an important role in setting a good foundation for your child's dietary habits. To stay fit and healthy, teach your child to choose healthy food and be active from an early age. Adopting a healthy lifestyle helps your child to feel fitter, look better and concentrate better in his studies.
Numerous studies have confirmed that parents play a big role. When parents eat fruits and veggies, their children do too. When parents indulge in fast food and sweetened drinks, children adopt those habits as well. When parents choose to play video games or mobile games instead of playing sports—you guessed it—the children do the same.
If you think your child might be getting overweight and headed towards obesity and want to turn things around, here are 6 practical tips to help your child trim down, get healthier and avoid getting a whole host of health problems as they grow up.
My Healthy Plate as a guide to the types and quantities of food your child should eat each day.
Never underestimate a parent’s influence on a child. Children eat what their parents eat. It’s best parents and children eat together using My Healthy Plate. Your child will develop healthy eating habits in the long term when they start on the right footing.
My Healthy Plate is not only about getting the right proportion of nutrients, but also about portion control which helps your child avoid overeating.
When you feel a tad tempted to give him more, remind yourself that overfeeding him today will do more harm than good in the long run. There is much evidence that supports the claim that childhood obesity shortens adult life, in addition to increasing the chances of heart disease, stroke and other illnesses.
Healthy eating habits can help prevent childhood obesity. Habits can be taught and learnt.
Encourage your child to:
You can help your child reduce his intake of unhealthy food gradually. For example:
All in all, it is about creating a supportive environment for your child to eat healthier and to lose weight gradually. We also want to make sure, when we are instilling these habits, our child does not feel judged or shame. These negative emotions could be detrimental to his psyche and affect his ability to manage his weight.
An inactive lifestyle and sedentary behaviours are risk factors of obesity in children. For example, the average child spends about 2.5 hours each day on screens.
With the rising popularity of computer and video games—many of which can also be played on smartphones—it is likely that more and more kids will have more screen time instead of active playtime.
As role models, parents should encourage their children to increase their activity levels by engaging in more sports or exercises. Parents should also set a good example by spending less time on sedentary activities such as watching the television or playing games on smartphones.
Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides to give your child a healthy start.
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This article was last reviewed on
15 Sep 2023
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