This is the work to develop resources and programmes to encourage everyone to have a healthy diet, develop cooking skills and take regular exercise. This will help prevent obesity and other long term conditions enabling people to enjoy a longer, healthier, disease free life.

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1st June 2016

Children

The Very Young

Even babies and preschool children can gain excessive amounts of weight. Help your child to maintain a healthy weight by choosing to breast-feed and introducing solids only after your baby is around 6 months of age. Breastfeeding can also help you to lose weight. Your body has already laid down extra fat stores during pregnancy. Breastfeeding will allow your body to use up these fat stores. Your health visitor is a valuable source of advice on feeding babies and young children and can give you details of your local breastfeeding support group where you can meet other breastfeeding Mums and get help and support with breastfeeding issues.

Children

Almost one in four children in Fife is an unhealthy weight. This makes it more likely that they will become overweight adults and puts them at risk of developing chronic conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease. Overweight children can also experience teasing or bullying, low self-esteem, embarrassment or breathlessness when playing games and sports.

Children in general are getting bigger, and it can be easy to miss the fact that your child is overweight. Often there are signs such as having problems getting clothes to fit or having to buy clothes made for much older children. Parents, carers and teachers all have a role to play in helping children to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. One place to get help and support is through the BEST in Fife programme.

BEST is a free programme provided in locations throughout Fife, which supports children and their families in making positive changes to their health and lifestyles. An invitation to join the BEST programme may be offered to you and your child following their child health review. However, if you feel that you and your family could benefit from this programme, please contact your NHS school nurse, health visitor or doctor. You can also contact BEST directly on 01383 565497.

Click here to check whether your child is a healthy weight:

Healthy Eating

The best way to prevent children becoming overweight is to encourage healthy eating habits and make sure they keep physically active at school and at home. Children who see their parents, grandparents and carers following a healthy lifestyle are more likely to do so themselves. These habits then become part of everyday life and will be continued into adulthood.

Most overweight children do not need to diet. A few small changes to their food choices are usually all that is needed. Try to encourage regular meals and limit high calorie snacks and sugary drinks.

Children dont usually need to lose weight. As they grow taller, aim to keep their weight about the same. That means they grow into their ideal weight as they get taller. If your child is very overweight and has reached a height close to their adult height, they may need to lose weight and your GP or health visitor can advise you about this. They can also refer you and your child to the BEST programme.

Every day, all children should aim to eat:

  • Five or more servings of a variety of fruit and vegetables.  Click here for ideas;
  • Meals that are based on starchy foods, e.g. potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, breakfast cereal or other cereal;
  • Lower fat dairy foods such as semi-skimmed milk, low fat yoghurt, fromage frais or cheese once children are over five;
  • Two small servings of protein-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, pulses or lentils.

Remember to use the Eatwell plate to help you to balance the food groups. Try to go sparingly with spreads and oil for cooking. Keep savoury and sweet snacks, such as crisps, biscuits and chocolate, as an occasional treat. No more than one sugar-sweetened drink a day should be offered tap water or semi-skimmed milk are healthier options.

Remember: children need smaller portion sizes than adults and ideally their meals should be served on a child-sized plate.

Tips for Getting Started

To help your child adopt healthy eating habits, start them at a young age. Schools in Scotland now offer healthier foods as part of Hungry for Success. You can support this by offering your children healthier options at home. The following will also help to make mealtimes happier and more enjoyable:

  • Sitting together as a family to eat your meal as often as possible;
  • Switching off the television during meals;
  • Eating healthy foods yourself and being positive about them;
  • Getting the family to try new foods;
  • Encouraging and praising good eating, and making as little fuss as possible when a new food has not gone down well;
  • Involving your children in food preparation.

Physical Activity

All children and young people should be physically active for at least an hour a day. This can include:

  • School sport over and above physical education classes
  • Playing outside at home or at school
  • Walking or cycling to school
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Playing in the park
  • Helping in the home

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