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Updated: Oct 16, 2018

What causes #obesity in children?

There are a number of different things that can cause obesity in children:

• eating a poor diet, such as large amounts of high-fat and sugary foods, or portion sizes that are too large

• inactivity, for example, not doing enough exercise and spending too much time watching television or in front of a computer

• lack of sleep, which can alter hormone levels and increase appetite

• genetic (inherited) conditions, although these are rare

Lifestyle changes

Children are very good at copying adults and if they see you eating well and exercising more, they’re more likely to join in.

The best way to tackle obesity in children (and adults) is to make lifestyle changes. If your child is seriously overweight or obese, they’ve been taking in more calories than they’re using up. You’ll need to make changes to their daily routine – the foods they eat and the amount of activity they do.

Think about changes you can make as a family to adopt healthier eating habits and become more active. Working together with your child or as a family is likely to be more successful long term as it will help you all make permanent changes to your lifestyle.

To encourage your children, try setting goals and giving rewards and praise when they meet them. Choose smaller goals to start with, so that they can achieve them reasonably easily and are encouraged to carry on. Remember not to make rewards food-based though.

Here are some tips to help your family eat more healthily.

1. Increase the amounts of #vegetables, #fruits and grains in your diet and cut down on fatty, salty and sugary foods.

2. Cut out sugary drinks altogether – offer water, semi-skimmed milk drinks (for over fives) or diluted fruit juice in moderation.

3. Add extra vegetables, beans or lentils to soups, stews, casseroles and pasta sauces 4. If your meat eaters, choose more chicken and fish and less red and processed meat.

5. Serve smaller portions and check packaging for number of recommended servings. Using smaller plates may help – dinner plates we use today are much bigger than they were 20 or 30 years ago. If you have a toddler, find out more about how much your toddler should be eating.

6. Sit down to eat as a family as often as you can and involve children in planning and preparing meals. You can set a good example and they can learn about healthy eating.

Dr Edward Gaynor, Paediatrician and Clinical Fellow at Bupa UK says: “It’s important not to put your child on a diet that might affect the amount of nutrients and energy (calories) they need to develop and grow. Helping them to have a healthy, balanced diet and do enough physical activity is the safest way to help your child achieve or maintain a healthy weight”

Physical activity

#Children over the age of five need to do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. This can be all in one go or over a number of sessions of 10 minutes or more.

Here are some tips to help your child get active.

• Try building activity into everyday life, such as walking or cycling to school and using stairs instead of the lift.

• Involve your children in family jobs, such as walking the dog, washing the car or some gardening.

• Encourage your child to join classes or clubs for activities they enjoy, such as dancing, swimming or football.

• Take part as a family: in walking, cycling, dancing or playing sports.

• Cut down on the amount of time your child spends watching television or using a computer. Try to limit this to less than two hours a day or 14 hours a week.

• Make sure your child gets enough sleep – increasing physical exercise can help with this. Did you know that school-aged children (6–13 years) should get between nine and 11 hours sleep each night?

Children are very good at copying adults and if they see you eating well and exercising more, they’re more likely to join in.


At Lowden Coaching we want to ensure we help you achieve your family goals physically and mentally. If you want to discuss this in more detail and feel my support will help you achieve your goals, whether that be in fitness, nutrition or mindset coaching then please get in contact with me at #TeamLowden.



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