Overweight children: do something about it!

The number of overweight children and adolescents is rising sharply. In the Netherlands, approximately 1 in 6 children and adolescents aged 2 to 25 are overweight. The increase in weight is a trend that started some 30 years ago.

Worse performance

Actually, everyone knows that the consequences of being overweight are serious. Children who are too heavy as adults are more likely to have heart problems. In addition, they are more likely to perform worse at school. Too high a blood pressure and too high a cholesterol level have a negative influence on the brain. The IQ of obese children is generally lower than that of healthy children. In addition, they have the problem of being able to concentrate less long.

Playing inside, little exercise

There are several reasons for the increase in weight. Children are staying indoors more and more. Playing indoors has even become quite normal. Playing on a game console or tablet has become a favorite activity because of the many fun and increasingly realistic games. Social life takes place more and more online. There are also parents who feel that playing outside in the street is no longer safe. All of this causes children to move less actively and consciously.

Eating pattern

Although children move less than before, this is not the only reason for the increase in obese children. Many parents set a bad example when it comes to eating. Parents eat too much, too irregularly and this behaviour is quickly adopted by children. The temptations are simply too great. Regular exercise and a healthy diet. It sounds simple, but it is very important.

Doubts about being overweight

The BMI (Body Mass Index) gives a good indication of whether a child is too heavy. For parents who doubt whether their child is overweight, it is useful to do a test. This can easily be done via the Internet. Reliable tests can be found on the website of the Heart Foundation and the Nutrition Centre. The result will appear within a few seconds.

There is an easy formula to calculate BMI yourself:
weight / (length in m * length in m)

Mind you, this is only an indication. Always consult an expert if in doubt.

Tackle obesity

The BMI is too high and now what? If there are no medical reasons, your child should eat healthier and exercise more. A good start is half the battle: three nutritious meals a day are the basis of a healthy weight.

Tips for overweight:

The Heart Foundation has developed the teaching method Lekker Fit! Talk about this at school. Also ask what they do about healthy products in the school canteen, lessons about healthy eating and physical activity. Awareness is the first step;
Set a good example: children imitate their parents. In this way they learn to walk, talk and also eat. If a parent does not like to eat fruit, there is a good chance that a child will not like it either;

On the website of the Heart Foundation you will find tips about healthy snacks. If you, as a parent, would like to give a cookie once in a while, please check the number of calories for this type of snack. For example, a Snickers contains 305 kcal and an Evergreen League 77.6 kcal;
Try to move your child moderately intensively for an average of one hour a day. Have children play outside and walk or cycle to school if possible. A new children’s bike can do wonders.
Tip: To make cycling attractive and fun for your child, you can also think of a popular tough BMX boy’s bike or the Granny Fluor girl’s bike.
Take a look at the local sports clubs. I’m sure there’s a sport that your child will enjoy doing.

These tips are easy and handy. The most important thing is to keep going!

Living healthier means changing your daily habits. This is quite difficult and sometimes it just doesn’t work. It’s okay, as long as you don’t give up right away. Just continue your healthy lifestyle the next day. You and your child will feel great about it.

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