Did you know that one-third of kids aged four to nine in Ireland don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables each day?
According to research published in 2003 by UCD, the rates of childhood obesity in Ireland rose 484% for girls over the past 10 years and a whopping 510% for boys.
2011, UP TO 327,000 children are either obese or overweight and experts have warned Ireland is heading for a US-style epidemic where 33% of children have weight problems.
According to Dr Donal O’Shea, a consultant endocrinologist and the director of the weight management Clinic at St Columcille’s Hospital, 20% of Irish children are obese or overweight.
Being overweight as children can have adverse effects on growth and physical development, and lead to a lifetime of health problems, including increased risks for certain cancers and heart disease.
While encouraging physical activity is one way that parents can help their children build healthy lifestyle habits, eating well is equally important.
Children should eat a minimum of 5-10 servings of fruit and vegetables every single day for maximum health benefits. The nutrients in these foods will energize them, build strong bones and muscles, and help their brains stay sharper. Even better, finding ways to encourage your kids to enjoy eating fruits and vegetables can be fun!
Pack Kid-Tested School Lunches –
Fill up their lunchbox with celery sticks with cheese or almond butter which makes a delicious, filling snack that kids love.
Also consider small bags of dried fruit.
Let Them Get Their Hands Dirty –
Include your kids in food preparation and make it a game.
Try open face vegetable sandwiches (use cut veggies to make a funny face!) or homemade vegetarian pizza and let them experiment with toppings.
Take Them Grocery Shopping –
Shopping at the market gets your children excited about fresh produce – and getting them to choose their variety of apple will make them eager to help pack and eat their lunches.
Above all, the best thing you can do to instill healthy eating habits in your children is by being a positive food role model. If your kids see you eating fruits and vegetables, buying organic and choosing healthy options over junk food, they’ll be more likely to follow suit.
Nutritionist Oliver McCabe will be at Rude Health 2012 RDS Dublin Sunday September 16th 11.30am demonstrating Green Smoothie and Juice Ideas for Healthy Lunchboxes.