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Helping children lead a healthy lifestyle
March 1, 2016, 4:18 pm

Teaching children about a varied, nutritious diet and active lifestyle are valuable lessons that will prove to be useful throughout their lives. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980 leading to 42 million children being obese by 2013, continuation of which will lead to the number increasing to 70 million by 2025.

Health experts recommend ensuring the following four simple habits are adopted by all the family to help sustain good health: managing portion sizes, ensuring daily meals and snacks are nutritious and varied, drinking water to stay hydrated and, moving more and sitting less. More movement: The first tip is probably the easiest – parents should get their children moving and active.

Any physical activity is better than none at all and one way to get kids to move more is to challenge them to only sit down for a certain length of time each day – decreasing the time spent on sedentary activities such as playing on the computer. Finding physical activities tailored to a child’s interests can help them not only to develop their motor skills, but also with decision-making, paying attention and teamwork. More water: Water is crucial to life. It hydrates and helps regulate body temperature which is essential for physically active children, more so in hot climates.

To get your child to drink enough water, make it easily available and attractive with a colored straw or designed water cups. Try squeezing in a little lemon or fresh orange to add some flavor. More fruits and vegetables: Children should be encouraged to enjoy a variety of healthy foods from different food groups to ensure they have a nutrient-rich diet.

One way to make this available is to ensure that there is always a stocked fruit bowl or chopped vegetables for after-school snacks. Another way is to engage children in the purchasing and preparing of healthy meals at home; this enables them to see how to create a healthy balanced meal for themselves. More managed portions: Parents should ensure that meals served to their family contain the right balance of nutrients. Moreover, even when the quality of food offered is nutritious it is equally important to manage the portion sizes.

One way to determine portion sizes is to use the hand as a reference; children have smaller hands and so need smaller portions. For instance, a clenched fist is about a cup, the recommended amount for a portion of pasta, rice, cereal, vegetable and fruit. A meat portion should be about as big as a palm. Also try serving food on smaller plates to make it appear larger.

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