By Health Promotion Board in collaboration with A/Prof Marion Aw, Senior Consultant, Division of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Nutrition, Hepatology and Liver Transplantation, National University Hospital.

While not all overweight children grow up to be overweight adults, a study conducted by the Health Promotion Board has revealed that 70% of kids who are overweight at age seven will remain that way as adults. So, it’s not true that being chubby is just a phase that kids will eventually grow out of.

No Dieting

Having said that, mum and dad should not put their toddlers on a restrictive diet. What’s more important is to make sure junior eats healthily and is physically active. It is also critical to build healthy eating habits from young.

If you’re worried, talk to your doctor. In general, when children are overweight, doctors would not advise them to lose weight. Instead, the aim would be for a slower rate of weight gain, or to maintain the child’s weight for a while (instead of gaining weight). This way, when the child grows taller, he will be closer to the healthy weight for his height!

Related: Nutrition Counts for Your Growing Child

Know Your Portions

Excess calories can lead to obesity, so parents should keep an eye on the serving portions from each major food group—how much wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, and meat/others your little one should be getting per day.

Related: Nutrition for Your Toddler

Eat Healthy

Instead of deep frying, opt for healthier methods such as boiling, grilling, or steaming. Use less oil, sugar, and salt when preparing meals for the family.

Do not let your child snack too much between meal times, and avoid high-sugar or high-fat snacks. Some healthy snack ideas include fresh fruit slices, vegetable sticks, cheese, or wholegrain crackers.

Related: Healthy Snacks for Kids

Get Moving

WHO recommends at least 180min of physical activity per day for children 1-4y while children and youth aged 5-17y should accumulate at least 60min of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity per day. It is a good idea for the whole family to get active together.

Parents should be good role models for their children, providing encouragement and motivation to lead an active lifestyle by way of sports or play.

Activities such as walks in the parks, cycling, kite-flying etc. can be enjoyed by the entire family and strengthen family bonds at the same time. Caregivers may also bring children for outdoor play when the weather permits. Parents may consider introducing their favourite sport to their children and encourage them to be active and have a healthy interest in exercise from a young age.  

For birthdays and other special occasions, try to pick gifts that will encourage your kid to be physically active—such as a kite, a hula hoop, or a ball.

As parents, and the most influential people in your child’s life, it is important to set a good example by eating right and being physically active yourself. Being a positive role model for your child can instil the right attitude and habits that will help him nurture a healthy lifestyle.

Visit Parent Hub, for more useful tips and guides to give your child a healthy start.

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