Childhood obesity rates have tripled in the last 30 years and the UK has seen the highest rate of obesity in Western Europe. Figures from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) show that up to 79% of children who are obese in their early teens are also likely to remain obese as adults. This puts them at risk of conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
The British Nutritional Foundation has also recently published a report which reviews the impact of current dietary and lifestyle habits of school children. Highlights of the report include;
Around a 5th of 11 to 18 year olds showed evidence of low vitamin D status
One third of girls from the same age range had low iron levels
Only 9% were consuming the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day (although intake is increasing in four to ten tear olds).
This is likely to be the result of the highly refined foods our children are bombarded with nowadays. Food aimed at children is often high in sugar, including so called ‘natural sugars’ such as fructose. These sugars are isolated from the fibres found in the fruit themselves and can contribute to weight gain.
Refined foods are commonplace in kitchens across the county nowadays. As well as being full of sugar they have been stripped of all vitamins and minerals, the manufacturers then have to add them back in. Leading to claims such as ‘added vitamin D’. They usually use cheap man made versions of these nutrients which the body can find difficult to absorb.
Foods as nature intended, you know the ingredients because you can see them! These natural food are full of the vitamins and minerals that are so important for children’s development. They also contain fibre which slows the release of sugars into the body, reducing the risk of weight gain.
Breakfast is always a really good place to start
Try porridge with mashed banana and ground cashews
Sugar free muesli with blueberries
Egg and soldiers
Banana and mixed berry smoothie with ground cashews
Other things to consider;
Swap white bread, pasta and rice for brown.
Swap sugary snack for fruit and nuts or oat cakes and almond butter
Homemade food is always best as you know the ingredients. You can blend sauces with vegetables for those fussy eaters and freeze in batches for easy meals.
Please do get in touch if you would like any further advice.
I offer family consultations which include meal plans, recipes and shopping lists as well as individual plans for children with specific health issues.