Once more it has been in the media that today’s generation of children are more unfit and at risk of obesity. It seems to have become a moral panic that all our children are getting fatter and that their future health is at risk. Whilst I am sure that there are some children that are quite inactive and need to move more the vast majority are still outside playing and I want to get the message out that our children are fine. In this society it seems we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t. If we give our children the freedom to play out of sight we are accused of poor parenting and yet when we keep them close to us we are mocked for them not playing outside and keeping fit.
A recent study by the British Cohort Study suggests that
children who watched a lot of TV aged 10 were 42% more likely to spend more than three hours a day in front of the screen as adults than those who watched relatively little television in childhood.
The 42-year-olds who watched TV for at least three hours a day were more likely to be in only “fair” or “poor” health and to rate themselves as either overweight or obese.
This demonstrates that this is not a new issue and that it was being monitored 30 years ago. It suggests that children’s future weight and health is dependent on parents.
“Their children may then model their mothers’ and fathers’ leisure activity patterns.
The media would have us believe that this is a new concern and that modern parents are overindulging their children. Whilst we all need to move more and do more I want young people and teenagers to not feel the pressure about weight and instead focus on being healthy.
What positive steps we can do as parents.
1. Be good role models – do your children see you being active. That means going for walks or playing sport. My children see me running and I have taken Chloe to Hockey training together. It could be getting out in the local forest and not necessarily being really sporty.
2. Find family activities you can do together. Swimming is fun and a great sport for everyone or try Go ape for more adrenalin based activities.
3. Free Tennis weekends are great and we went a few times last year. This is running again this year just check the venues near you. We have an outdoor court just by our house and it is really well used and it is a great way to spend 30 mins winding down in the summer evening sun. Plus it’s free!
4. Support your children in their chosen activities. I have spent hours standing on sidelines and cheering them on. Recently Chloe had regional hockey trails and I stood on the side in the wind and watched for six hours. A smile was plastered on my face despite being frozen to the bone!
5. Give younger children choices. Often you are able to have taster sessions of different sports my little family have tried so many things before settling down to their favourites. You need to try things to find your strengths.
6. Play together in the park, it doesn’t have to cost much. Take pre schoolers to the park, let primary school children burn off some energy in the park after school. If it is not raining we spend half an hour in the park every day after school. I chat with friends whilst the children play.