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Children and young people healthy weight

Wiltshire Council is committed to supporting young people to live in an environment that supports healthier lifestyles and whilst many of these challenges we face may take some time to take effect, we hope this page will give you the information you need to make the first step whether it is for yourself as a young person or as a parent for your child.

Children and young people today are growing up in an 'obesogenic' environment, which means they are faced with factors that make it easy to be overweight, such as more access to unhealthy foods and not being physically active. We have takeaways and fast food restaurants open during the day on the walk home from school, as parents we have safety concerns around children playing out in the street and there are more opportunities to sit in front of a TV or a gaming station.

Every council area in England takes part in the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP). This involves measuring the height and weight of reception and year 6 children in state maintained schools every year. The results help us understand trends in underweight, healthy weight, overweight and obesity in children. This helps Wiltshire Council, the NHS and other organisations to plan what support might be needed and what kind of services to put in place.

You can calculate a child's body mass index (BMI) using the online calculator. You must enter the date of birth and gender for a child/young person as it is calculated differently to adults.

Up until the age of 18 years old you can use the BMI growth charts to plot your child's BMI using the centiles. If you have any concerns about your child's weight, or for more information, speak to your School Nurse or GP.

For more support on talking to your child about weight issues, see Weight Concern.

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Children and young people who are overweight or obese are more likely to be overweight as adults. Whilst children are still growing it is a good opportunity to ensure they aren't gaining excess weight, and if they are to try and make healthy lifestyle changes whilst they are young - it is much easier before the habits become ingrained.

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Top Tips for healthy weight in children and young people


Following guidance from the Eat Well Guide, children and young people shouldn’t be dieting to lose weight. Their bodies are still growing and need essential nutrients. Consider making some healthy swaps to improve eating habits.

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Research shows school food is often healthier than a typical packed lunch. Find out about your school's food menu by visiting your school's website. The School Foods Trust has a range of information for parents on healthy school food, including suggestions for a healthy packed lunch. Close
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Make sure your child goes off to school with the right start to the day with these breakfast ideas. Find out if your school provides a healthy breakfast club. Close
Try  to encourage drinking water over a sugary drink. Use the Change4Life Sugar Smart app to find out how much sugar is in your favourite drinks. Close
As tempting as it might be to get a bag of chips, crisps or chocolate bar on the way home school, try taking a different route to avoid going past the shop, or pack a healthier snack for after school to avoid any temptation. Healthy snacks should be enjoyed as part of healthy diet and keeps you going until meal time. Close
Think about your child’s access to food in and outside of the home. There is plenty you can do to encourage healthy eating in the home, such as a fruit bowl in a visible place and limiting foods high in fat and sugar. Encourage healthy eating outside of the home; look at menus online before going out for food to choose a healthier option. Find out on which food outlets in Wiltshire have achieved our healthy catering Eat Out Eat Well Award. Close
A typical school day involves quite a bit of sitting down, so limiting sitting down time after school is a good idea. Children still have plenty of physical energy to burn. Encouraging children to play with their toys, dance to their favourite songs, help with the cooking or even getting them to tidy their room will all help in limiting how much time they spend sat down. Change4Life have plenty of fun ideas for children and the family to get more active. Close

Think twice about getting in the car. Look into whether active travel to school by walking, scooting or biking is an option.

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A good night’s sleep is key to a healthy weight. For top tips on improving sleep visit the Sleep Council.

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Most young girls give up participating in sport and physical activity during secondary school. However, research suggest that children whose mothers participate in regular physical activity are more likely to continue with sport. Consider what activities you might want to do together. Children and Young people should be aiming for 60 minutes of physical activity 5 times a week.

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What support is availble for children and young people?


Healthy Me is a healthy lifestyle programme for families with an overweight child aged 7-11 years old. Tel: 01225 716674 or email: healthyme@wiltshire.gov.uk

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Sign up to Change4Life to hear about new healthy eating tips, recipes, competitions and offers to keep your family healthy together.

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Speak to your child's School Nurse if you have any concerns about your child's weight and would like support to make healthy lifestyle changes.

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Encourage your family to walk or cycle when you avoid using your car, plan a safe route to walk.

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3 month free swimming is available to children who are overweight and aged 4-11 years old. Ask your School Nurse for more information. Tel: 01722 425154

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Ask about Junior Gym at your local Leisure Centre and find out about your local community for sports and physical activity.

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If you'd like to do more family outdoor activities, Wiltshire Wildlife Trust have a range of activties to benefit your health and wellbeing for the whole family.

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Health Trainers can support parents to work towards a healthy weight and eat healthily which has a positive impact on the children and family.

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Last updated: 13 July 2017 | Last reviewed: 13 July 2017