Encourage Family Engagement: A Path to Preventing Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has tripled over the past 20 years thanks to the convenience of fast food, computer games and well-meaning parents who restrict outdoor play. For every 10 children, at least 1 is obese. It is widely known that the best way to prevent childhood obesity is to encourage a healthy diet and regular exercise, but how much exercise does a child need?

Children should exercise for at least 90 minutes a day.

-Department of Health, UK

Childhood obesity can and should be prevent. The saying goes, “prevention is better than cure.” It is easier to prevent childhood obesity than to fight it once it begins to cause harm to the child.

You are the role model

For a young child who knows nothing about the benefits of exercising, parents have the responsibility of educating their children. One of the best ways to do so is to be a role model and adopt a healthy lifestyle ourselves.

Parents can make exercising more fun and acceptable for a child if they can turn it into a family activity. Exercising does not necessarily have to involve a 2.4km run at the nearby park. It can be an enjoyable family bonding activity where the children will look forward to it. Making exercising more fun will also encourage your child to continue this habit into adulthood.

Doing it together!

In a tropical climate like Singapore, one of the best ways to exercise is to hit the pool where it is cooler. Swimming is also a low impact exercise which is suitable for the young and old. Even letting your toddler waddle in the pool can be beneficial to his health and help prepare him to learn how to swim. To step up the game, the family can also enjoy pool games by bringing beach balls and floating toys.

It is not difficult to arrange a weekend swimming session as a family. There are 24 public swimming complexes in Singapore and almost every town offers a convenient and low-cost access to a swimming complex. If you live in a condominium with swimming pool facilities, there should be no excuse!

Other than swimming?

If swimming is not your ideal form of exercise, there are also other ways to make exercising a family activity such as basketball and frisbee. These are activities which are easy for young children to pick up and develop their motor skills.

No parent wishes to see their child in poor health due to obesity. On top of a healthy diet, childhood obesity can also be prevented when coupled with exercise. If exercising is incorporated into regular family bonding sessions, promoting a healthy lifestyle will be effortless.