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.

The odds are against it! A study conducted by the Health Promotion Board has revealed that 70% of kids who are overweight at age 7 will remain that way as adults.

While a growth spurt might help lower his BMI (i.e. if his weight remains constant while he’s growing taller) the best way to make sure your child is of a healthy weight is to look at his current food intake and lifestyle, and make small changes.

Portions, Portions, Portions

Refer to My Healthy Plate on the recommended portions from each major food group for your child. It will give you an idea on how much wholegrains, fruit, vegetables and lean meat to give your child at each meal.

That’s ½ plate of vegetables and fruit, ¼ plate of wholegrains (e.g. brown rice) and ¼ plate meat/others. Make sure to use a plate for children, not adults!

Related: Wholegrains—The Wise Choice!

Calories In, Calories Out

Eating more calories than we can use up leads to weight gain. An easy way to cut down on calories would be to reduce portion sizes slightly.

For example, offer one less wholegrain cracker during snack time, reduce the amount of peanut butter you spread from one tablespoonful to half a tablespoonful, or serve a slightly smaller portion of brown rice. These little changes add up and make a difference to the total calories your child eats per day.

Eating together as a family, and not eating too quickly would also give your child time to feel full. This results in fewer total calories consumed at that meal.

Related: Know Your Calories

Healthier Choices

  • Choose healthier cooking methods such as boiling, grilling, or steaming foods.
  • Use less oil, sugar, and salt when preparing meals.
  • If you’ve been serving refined grains, switch to more wholegrain food products like wholemeal bread and brown rice—they also help your child feel fuller after meals.
  • Offer water to your child when he’s thirsty, instead of sweetened drinks.
  • Use sweetened and fat spreads such as jam, kaya and margarine sparingly: a little can go a long way.

Get up and Get Moving

Encourage your child to get at least three hours of physical activity every day, out of which half should be spent outside. Start small: kite-flying at a picnic (with healthy food!), throwing a frisbee on the beach, or learning to ride a bike can be fun ways to get your child to fall in love with physical activity.

Nudge him to try different sports or games and give him time to play with his friends at the playground. Don’t pressure him or force him into exercise, though; this could make him resent exercise in the long run, and as parents we want him to enjoy physical activity and make it a lifelong habit.

Be a positive role model for your child and spend the weekends as a family outdoors engaged in a physical activity.

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

Download the HealthHub app on Google Play or Apple Store to access more health and wellness advice at your fingertips.

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