By Michael Dermansky – Physiotherapist at MD Health

Over the last 15 year over 15% and more recently over 20% of Australian Children are either overweight or obese. This is not just an isolated Australian problem, but is happening all over the world, with 30% in Canada and >35% in some part of America, but why and why so quickly in the last 15 years. The answer is simple, 85% of our children consume some form of high sugar, high fat or high salt snack each day, which doesn’t fill them up, but adds 707 kilojoules of extra energy per day, that they don’t need. This is just under 7kg of extra fat to burn off every year!!!

So what can we do?

  • Replace sweets with fruit – 40% of children eat no fruit at all each day and they should be eating 2 pieces of fruit a day
  • Replace salty snacks with vegetables, such as carrots and – 30% of children eat no vegetables at all and they should be eating 5 serves of vegetables a day
  • Replace sugary soft drinks or sports drinks with water – only 25% of children drink water when they are thirsty, the best thing of children to drink to stay hydrated

Finally we can lead by example. Children of overweight parents are 3.6 times more likely to be overweight children, because they copy what we do and don’t believe you when they are told to eat well, but we snack on the wrong types of food ourselves. So we should do the same as we tell our children to do, eat 2 pieces of fruit a day, each 5 servings of vegetables a day and drink water instead of sweetened drinks.

The results will affect our children for the rest of their lives. Overweight children are 30% more likely to become overweight adults, with high risks of hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. We can prevent this when they are children. For more specific advise on what you can do, talk to a nutrition expert or your doctor

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