Childhood obesity in Europe: 3 steps to keep your kids healthy
Obesity in Europe among kids is rising. But how can we do so in the most effective and engaging way? Read on to find out.
Obesity in Europe: with nearly half of children reported as dangerously overweight in the UK alone, it’s now more important than ever that we’re keeping our kids healthy, happy and active. Obesity in Europe among kids is rising. But how can we do so in the most effective and engaging way? Read on to find out.
First things first - be mindful from the very early stages
Believe it or not, you can make your child receptive to good-for-you foods before you’ve even given birth to them. Research from the US National Library of Medicine shows that what you eat during pregnancy can have a knock-on effect on the food your child will eventually enjoy. You’re literally shaping their eating habits for the rest of their life. Who would've known that obesity in Europe among kids can start even before they're born? The lesson here is: minimise the junk, maximise the greens and watch their fresh palate flourish.
Re-educate the way your child sees food
Unfortunately, children don’t always welcome their five-a-day with open arms (to say the least). But this doesn’t have to be the case.
By making healthy meals interactive and entertaining, your child will automatically be more interested in actually eating them. Particularly if they’ve played a part in putting them together. Involve your mini-you in the cooking process by allowing them to stir, mash, or simply observe what you’re doing. Playing chef will give them a sense of pride and ownership over the dish. That will encourage them to enjoy more of it.
A dash of creativity never hurts either. Unfortunately, bad nutrition is a leading cause of obesity in Europe. That's why you should ramp up your meal’s appeal factor by making household favourites with healthy twists, such as veggie macaroni and cheese, mini cauliflower crust pizzas or turkey sliders: they’re much better for you and the family will hardly taste the difference.
Lastly, don’t cut corners when it comes to preparing meals - especially breakfast. Instead of loading up on high-sugar cereals in the mornings, treat your little one to an omelette or banana and oatmeal pancakes for an instant health (and taste) win.
Change their relationship with sports
Increasing your child’s engagement with exercise is another great solution to keeping health and weight problems at bay. For parents with kids who love sports, this is a pretty easy task. But what do you do if yours hates them?
Kids that don’t like sports often feel that way because they’ve had a bad experience before, or don’t believe they’re “good enough” at them. There are a couple of ways to help. Firstly, make sure that before you sign your child up to anything, they’ve had time to get familiar with the sport and learn the basics at home, so that they can approach their first class with confidence.
Leading by example will help them embrace athleticism more readily, so take them on bike rides, walks in the park or even just throw a frisbee around the garden on a regular basis. Not only will they feel inspired by you, a sport itself will transform into more of a “safe space” for them, becoming a hobby that they associate with good times instead of anxiety. Just take it one baby step at a time, and they’ll be a mini basketball pro before you know it.
You can find more of these tips in our Nutrition section.