Thursday, 9 July 2015

Fight the Fat!

Childhood obesity is a growing problem, with reports from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showing that 9.5% of 4-5 year olds are overweight or obese, increasing to 19.1% by the time children leave primary school.

Obesity is measured by combining height and weight to determine a person's Body Mass Index (BMI). A healthy BMI is in the range of 18.5 to 24.9, with a BMI of 30 or over being classed as obese.

However there are exceptions to the rule, such as athletes who have a higher percentage of muscle mass and would weigh more due to muscle weighing twice as much as fat.

There are two important changes that can be made to prevent and manage obesity: optimal nutrition, and physical activity.


A healthy diet is essential for tackling obesity and promoting weight loss. Healthy eating for children is different to the diet suggested for adults, as children require large amounts of calories and nutrients to meet their energy needs, and should not be on a low calorie, low fat and high fibre diet.

Healthy eating is often encouraged by the use of an 'eat well plate', which demonstrates appropriate portion sizes for each of the 5 food groups:
  • Bread, cereal, and potatoes
  • Fruit and vegetables
  • Meat and fish
  • Milk and dairy foods
  • Sugary and fatty foods
Physical activity

This is essential to weight control. Exercise must be combined with reduced food intake, whilst activity levels should increase gradually and be tailored individually to each person.

It is recommended that children should be active for at least 60 minutes every day, but ideally should participate in some form of physical activity for a few hours each day. It is also advised that children do intense physical activity three days a week.

Childhood obesity can lead to various musculoskeletal conditions that may limit a child's ability to take part in physical activities. It is also detrimental to motor skill performance, including coordination, balance, running speed and agility, and strength.

As a child gets older these differences become more noticeable, suggesting it is necessary to focus on motor skill development from an early age to encourage overweight and obese children to be physically active.

Forms of physical activity include sports such as Football, Netball, Swimming and Tennis. Other useful activities include Cycling, Dancing, Skipping and Gardening.

UCLan Physiotherapy Clinic provides nutritional and dietary consultancy, can create tailor-made plans for cardiovascular rehabilitation, and runs 'back to fitness' classes from £10 per person.

The Clinic is run by professionally registered physiotherapists and sports therapists and is recognised by all major private health companies.

For more details please click here or telephone 01772 894902.

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