Preventing childhood obesity

Written by    Last updated: September 12, 2007

You will be obsessed with weight gain in your newborn, but you’ll want to make sure that your baby doesn’t end up obese either…

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Breastfeed if possible

Babies that are breastfed are less likely to become overweight in years to come. This may be due to the fact that bottle‐fed babies seem to have higher levels of insulin, which is a hormone related to laying down of fat cells in the body.

Toddler portions

A toddler needs about a quarter of an adult portion of food. You’re not doing your child any favours by heaping on extra helpings.

Signs of fullness

By forcing your child to eat more when they say they’re full, you could weaken their ability to respond to signals of hunger and fullness. This could lead to a habit of overeating.

Activity time

Toddlers and small children require a great deal of play and activity. This stimulates their growth and development. It also helps them to maintain a healthy weight. Try to include a game that keeps them walking or running for at least an hour a day.

Limit television

You don’t need to ban the television, as it can actually be quite stimulating in small doses. For under twos, limit it to around 30 minutes a day and no more than an hour for under fives.

Rewarding and comforting

Avoid using food as a bribe or as a comfort when they’re upset. This will set up food preferences that are related to emotions or behaviour. Food should be eaten as a response to hunger. Use a cuddle for comfort and a story as a reward instead.

Banning foods

By entirely excluding greasy or sugary foods from a child’s diet you’re simply increasing their attractiveness in your child’s eyes. Besides, toddlers do require full‐fat milk and yoghurt as their energy needs are high at that age.

Set an example

One of the biggest influences you can have on your child’s future eating habits is your own response to food. Children learn best by observing so set them a good example.

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