Being unfit and/or overweight can start in childhood, or develop during teenage years.  This is understandable: many young people would sooner sit and watch TV or play a video game rather than exercise.  Many would sooner eat chocolates and sweets than vegetables.

Advertising plays a major part in this, and there is no doubt that a parent who wants his/her children to be of a reasonable weight and to live in reasonable health will have to counter act this.

In an ideal world, you should start as soon as possible, encouraging the young child to go for walks with you.  After all if the child sees the parent as non-active and overweight then that is the model the child will follow.

But this sounds like a battle - and many of us have enough battles in every day life to want to take on something new.

And yet we are talking here of a matter that is central to the child's life.   A child that is overweight and who takes little exercise will be:

  • More prone to diabetes
  • More prone to other illnesses
  • More unlikely to find a partner
  • More likely to be bullied at school

And that is just for starters.

So as a parent you really do have a duty to help your children become fit through what they eat and the exercise they get.  And that means restricting the fat-making foods such as crisps, encouraging healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables, and encouraging extra activity.

Activity is a good place to start because many children naturally like activities such as swimming, running, playing football etc etc.   So stage one should be - encourage such activities.