According to the Federal Office of Public Health, every fifth child in Switzerland is overweight. Children carrying extra weight are not only exposed to teasing and ridicule by their classmates, they are also at risk when it comes to their long-term health.
But don't panic yet should you spot an extra bulge protruding on your child. Whether your child is truly overweight or simply sporting a cute portion of baby fat is easy to calculate. Simply deduct 100 from the child's height and you will have the ideal weight. For example: A child that is 128 cm tall should not weigh more than 28 kg. But there's no reason for turning the diet upside down if this metric is above the benchmark. Since the body changes constantly during early childhood, your child may very well be forming a short-term reserve in order to have enough energy for the next growth spurt.
On the other hand, if your child does carry some extra kilos, you as the parent can influence his or her dietary and exercise habits positively. The following tips are meant to help:
- Role model: Set a good example when it comes to improving eating habits by including vegetables and fruit in your snacks more often.
- Ban on sweets: Avoid banning all sweets immediately because this tends to cause children to adopt clandestine behaviours and indulge in sweets with a bad conscience. Instead, opt for healthier alternatives to chips and jelly bears, such as apples and granola bars.
- Rewards: Don't reward or comfort your child by dishing out extra helpings. Going on a short trip, doing crafts together or telling stories are more meaningful options when it comes to showing that you love and care about your child.
- Meals: Cooking together is not only fun but also improves a child's understanding and knowledge of how food is prepared. For example, you can delegate some tasks, such as preparing the vegies or setting the table.
- Eating together: We recommend that you try to eat at least one meal a day together. Consider the family table as not merely a meeting point but also as a shared space for exchanging ideas, relaxing and spending time together.
- Exercise: Avoid taking your child to school by car, but walk together or take the bicycle instead. And weekend excursions involving a good workout such as taking bicycle trips, going on scavenger hunts in the city, or doing seasonal activities such as hiking, skiing or swimming are always a good idea.