Childhood obesity in the UK is rising dramatically, and even in a hard economy where money is sparse the cheap foods are the biggest culprits being high in sugars, salt and fats. New studies released this week have shown that 1 in 5 children leaving primary school are obese.

Well meaning parents give their children a lot of food in the hopes that they will grow up strong and healthy, however very few people understand the nutrition levels children of different ages need to grow and develop. Young children need protein but it is a common misconception that they need a high protein diet to grow, really children between the ages of 5 and 15 need a balanced diet with complex carbohydrates.

To work out if someone is overweight or obese you need to work out their BMI (Body Mass Index) below is a BMI chart for working out from your height and weight if you are overweight, however for children it isn’t quite as cut and dry as for adults.

BMI chart

Is my child obese?

It is hard to look at your own child whom you love and see them as anything but perfect;

  • Is your child obese?
  • Are you giving them too much junk food?
  • Are they eating the wrong kinds of foods and portions that are too large?
  • Or are they eating large portions of healthy food but do not lead an active enough lifestyle to burn off excess calories?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you need to look at changing your child’s lifestyle and diet so they can lead a healthy life later on.

If you are not sure whether your child is overweight or obese then have a look at the below chart;

children's BMI chart

As you can see, there is generally a dip in the chart as children lose that baby fat we love so much and become much more active, but by the age of 4 or 5 you should see a steady growth and this will be proportional to their height. Having access to this chart is equally important to make sure your child is not underweight as they may not be getting the right nutrients due to hiding vegetables or refusing to eat certain foods.

If you have any concerns do see your health visitor or doctor as they can give a proper evaluation just use this chart as a guideline as each child is different and may have a large or small frame the important thing is to make sure they are getting the correct nutrients.

Children’s Health

Just as you would want to take care of yourself it is important to look after your children’s health, this can be a difficult task as children can become fussy and refuse to eat certain foods, demanding fast food and sweets but as responsible parents you have to ensure they are getting the right nutrients to grow and develop.

It is also very tempting to buy fast foods or convenience foods but these are often very high in fat, salt and even sugars and lacking in vitamins and minerals you would get from vegetables and other foods. Make sure you give your children nutritious meals most of the time and leave fast foods for emergency food or a treat, there is nothing wrong with having these foods every now and then as long as your child’s diet is generally healthy.

If you are giving your child a balanced diet but they are still overweight or obese then are they eating extra snacks and sweets you don’t know about? Or do they lead a sedentary lifestyle, playing computer games and wathcing TV rather than excercising or playing active games?

It is important to get your child into good habits at a young age, this way they will have a better chance of leading a healthy lifestyle as adults.