Childhood Obesity has hit the headlines in the last few years, and has become a major new health issue. The World Health Organization (WHO) regards childhood obesity as one of the most serious global public health challenges for the 21st century (Public Health England).
The National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP) measures the height and weight of around one million school children in England every year, providing a detailed picture of the prevalence of child obesity. The latest figures are for 2014/15, and show that:
- Year 6 (Age 10-11) – 19.1% obese, a further 14.2% overweight
- Reception (Age 4-5) – 9.1% obese, a further 12.8 overweight
These numbers are shocking – up to a third of Primary School Age children in the UK are overweight or obese ( Public Health England, 2016).
What are some of the causes of this escalating trend?
Potential culprits - Sugary drinks, video games & mobile phones, unhealthy school dinners, poor home eating habits, socioeconomic factors and genetics have been included in “why” factors over the last few years.
However, the basic situation is as people say – if you are taking in more calories than you burn, you are going to put on weight. And that applies to children as much as adults.
This post is about calories out rather than calories in – we are here to give you some practical tips for getting your kids moving and exercising more, and generally getting outdoors and having fun.
NHS Choices gives some great reasons for getting your kids active:
- 1) It helps children grow strong bones
- 2) It helps them maintain a healthy weight
- 3) It improves their self-confidence
- 4) It improves muscle strength and posture
- 5) It helps them to learn and discover about the world around them
- 6) Its fun!
So here are 10 activity ideas to get you started!
- 1) Scooter to school – if you live close enough for this, this is a great way to get your kids moving. Kids love scooters, and they’re pretty cheap – certainly cheaper than a bike.
- 2) Encourage them to start playing a sport – football, rugby, ballet, dodgeball – it doesn’t matter what it is, just get them involved. Sport brings other benefits such as discipline, self-reliance and teamwork.
- 3) Put limits on video games/iPad usage – most parents do this, but it’s worth restating – kids are so involved with technology and social media that they will often spend every minute of their free time on their devices. Set a limit – and stick to it.
- 4) Try a beach holiday – the beach offers many activity options for youngsters, such as running, games, and swimming. (NHS Choices, 2016)
5) Bribery – good old fashioned bribery can often work when other tactics have failed! A good strategy is to bribe the little ones with activities rather than sweets; so promise a rock climbing trip if they do well at school.
- 6) Take the dog for a walk – looking after a pet properly teaches responsibility and independence. If the kids wanted a dog they should learn to muck in and walk and feed him.
- 7) Join in the game – Kids love it when their parents play with them. Have a game of catch. Play hopscotch, or tennis. They say that kids learn mainly by example, so show them how It’s done! (WebMD)
- 8) Fly a kite - The Kite Society of Great Britain can point you to a number of groups that regularly meet for special flying days with experienced members who offer advice and assistance. Some also run kite-making workshops. (NHS Choices, 2016)
- 9) Buy a trampoline – trampolining is great exercise for kids and they love it. Trampolines are not as expensive as you think – you can get a good one for under £100.
- 10) Get them involved in the kitchen – you can never start too early to get your kids in the kitchen cooking healthy meals. It’s a great life skill…and it gets them off the sofa!
There an almost infinite number of ways to get your kids active; these are just some ideas to get you thinking.
If you have any ideas for activities for kids, send them in – we will gladly add them to our list!