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Helping your children to stay fit and healthy is really important but it can be hard. We want to support you to by giving you the right information to help your child. Nationally, 1 in 5 children in Reception class are overweight or obese. We know that this figure increases to 1 in 3 children being overweight or obese by the time children reach Year 6.
Children change all the time, so it can be difficult to say whether they are overweight.
Doctors calculate BMI (body mass index) for children and teens in the same way as they do for adults, by measuring height and weight. A child’s BMI is expressed as a ‘centile’ to show how their BMI compares with children who took part in national surveys. For example, a girl on the 75th centile is heavier than 75 out of 100 other girls her age.
The BMI calculator works out if a child or young person is:
Weight is a balancing act between what we eat or drink and how active we are.
Children need physical activity for good mental and physical health; but what you eat, and how much you eat, has a much bigger impact on your weight than how much exercise you do.
Overweight and obese children have an increased chance of suffering from bullying and low self esteem. They are also more likely to remain overweight as an adult. Research shows that most obese adults will have become obese before the age of 11. This increases their chances of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer, so it is really important to deal with obesity in the early years, to try and prevent these diseases in later life.
Unfortunately, some obese children already have features of insulin resistance. This means that these children carry a higher risk of becoming diabetic during their childhood/teenage years if they remain overweight.
Your doctor may decide to give your child some blood tests to help check the impact of being overweight on their health.
Here are some key ways to help your child achieve a healthy weight:
Although it can be difficult sometimes to make changes, doing so will help make a difference to improving your child’s weight, and more importantly their health. This is not about how your child looks, but about their health. Let them know that you love them whatever their weight and that all you want is for them to be healthy and happy.
Aim to drink plain or fizzy water. You can flavour water with whole pieces of fruit. Fruit juices, ‘energy’ drinks and shop bought smoothies are advertised as ‘healthy’. Unfortunately, these drinks can be very high in sugar. Try to avoid fizzy drinks altogether, as they are high in calories and low in nutrients.
Exercise improves mood and self esteem, and it also has positive effects on the heart and insulin resistance.
The UK recommendations for Children and young people aged 5 to 18 years are:
School Nurses can refer you to specialist weight management services if needed.
Brighton & Hove:
This information is intended for patients receiving care in Brighton & Hove or Haywards Heath.
The information here is for guidance purposes only and is in no way intended to replace professional clinical advice by a qualified practitioner.
Publication Date: February 2022
Review Date: November 2024