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How can I help address inequalities and support child healthy weight?

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Key messages for parents, grandparents and other caregivers

Parents and other caregivers can be encouraged to support child healthy weight by promoting the following key messages:

  • Healthy weight is about getting a good balance between the amount of energy going into the body (food and drink) and how much is spent doing physical activities.
  • Young people who see their parents, grandparents and carers following a healthy lifestyle tend to develop the same good habits.

For ideas and tips, parents can:

(All External links).

In addition, parents and carers should:

  • Make sure children get the right things to eat and drink for their age - see Nutrition and Inequalities in 0-3s, 3-5s and 5-8s.
  • Encourage children to help prepare snacks and meals.
  • Grill, steam, bake or boil foods instead of frying them.
  • Avoid fast foods and takeaways that are high in fat and salt.
  • Use smaller plates for smaller portions and smaller tummies.
  • Have regular sit-down meals together as often as possible.
  • Change sugary drinks to water or sugar-free drinks.
  • Change playtime snacks from biscuits, sweets and crisps to healthier options, such as fruit.
  • Encourage children to make healthy choices by explaining what makes one choice better than another.
  • Involve children and young people with food shopping to give them responsibility for making healthy choices.
  • Avoid using food as a reward. Stickers, colouring-in and fun 'active’ games can be used as a reward for children.
  • Make sure their child spends the recommended amount of time engaged in physical activity each day - see our sections on physical activity in the early years.

For advice and tips for children aged 2 and over, download a copy of Happy Healthy Kids.

If a parent is worried about a child's weight or growth and development, encourage them to seek help early - speak to their Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.

For information and details of support in your area, visit Parenting Across Scotland (external link) or call ParentLine Scotland on 0800 028 2233.

Lots of tips, advice and suggestions for activities are available online at the Play, Talk, Read website (external link).

Please also see below for further resources.

Nursery school staff and childminders

In addition to the advice given above for parents:

Please also see below for further resources.

Midwives, Health Visitors, GPs, practice nurses and social workers

Health professionals and social workers are ideally placed to develop trusting, respectful communicative relationships with parents of the type research has shown they most value.

Printed copies of Child Healthy Weight resources and details of local supports and other interventions can be obtained from your health board Child Healthy Weight lead (external link).

Service managers and commissioners

Service managers and commissioners can help by:

  • ensuring staff are appropriately trained and have the time to raise issues of child healthy weight with parents
  • ensuring that only healthy snacks, meals and drinks are offered
  • ensuring healthy lifestyle information is available to all
  • incorporating active play spaces and time for play into their services and service environments
  • displaying and distributing Child Healthy Weight resources (external link).

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Town and regional planners and local authorities

Planners and local authorities can contribute to action on child healthy weight by implementing improvements to the physical environment, facilities and public spaces that promote active leisure and travel.

Suitable actions include:

  • creation of safer walking and cycling routes to schools, nurseries and other facilities
  • improvements to active travel and public transport links to sports and leisure facilities
  • creation and improvement works to green spaces and play areas to address parental safety concerns and to make them more appealing for children.

A comprehensive list of evidence based and practitioner recommended actions can be found in the 2012 briefing: Good Places, Better Health for Scotland's Children - recommendations and findings of the expert evaluation group (external link).

Voluntary sector workers and managers

Voluntary sector agencies and workers can:

  • emphasise the importance of healthy eating and active play to all parents
  • only offer healthy snacks, meals and drinks
  • ensure staff are appropriately trained and have the time to raise issues of child healthy weight with parents
  • provide opportunities for active play by incorporating play spaces and time for play wherever possible
  • display and distribute Child Healthy Weight resources (external link).

Printed copies of Child Healthy Weight resources can be obtained from your local Child Healthy Weight lead (external link).

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