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Healthy weight and lifestyle

If your child is a healthy weight, there are many things you can do to help them stay healthy as they grow. Children who stay a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn and more self-confident. They’re also less likely to have health problems later in life.

Regular exercise such as walking, cycling or participating in sports has significant health benefits. Exercise can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and depression, as well as helping to control weight.

Children need a healthy balanced diet to enable them to grow and develop; a child who is given healthy foods and who has regular physical activity will benefit from a lifetime of stronger mind and body.

A child who has received poor nutrition and a lack of exercise is at greater risk of obesity, mental and emotional health problems and a failure to thrive academically with poorer educational and social outcomes in later life.

Small changes in diet and lifestyle can create big benefits as a child grows ensuring they live longer, healthier lives and are more likely to achieve their full potential.

  • Set a good example for your child. If a parent eats healthily and takes regular exercise a child is much more likely to accept this as a way of life. Getting active with your family is an effective way to ensure children lead a healthy lifestyle
  • Encourage your child to undertake at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day; for younger children this could involve visits to the park, playing games involving chase, or ball games; for older children, it could involve cycling, skateboarding, dancing or martial arts
  • Give child-sized portions. It’s hard to judge this as there are no fixed rules but good ideas include using a smaller sized plate for smaller children, not encouraging them to finish everything on their plate if they don’t want to and slowing their eating down so that eating with the family  is more of a social event
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet. Regular structured family meals will enable a child to know when they’ll be eating next and might prevent some unnecessary snacking
  • Choose water as a drink
  • Provide your child with healthy snacks and try to achieve 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables every day
  • Encourage your child to spend less time on TV/computer screens and mobile devices; there is guidance to suggest no more than two hours of screen time each day; remove all screens (including mobile phones) from their bedroom at night
  • Encourage your child to get an appropriate level of sleep for their age; night time sleep is just as important as healthy eating and exercise for children to develop. Children who don't get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight

If your child attends a state maintained school, free school or academy, they will be routinely seen as part of the ‘National Child Measurement Programme’ in Reception Year and Year 6, with parental consent. You will be advised of the results. If your child falls outside of the healthy weight range at that time, you will be advised of this by letter and offered further support to help you to address this.

If you’re concerned at any other time about your child’s weight and healthy lifestyle, please contact your local School Nursing service for advice and support.