There is no early childhood issue currently covered more widely in the media than childhood obesity.
We have all been confronted with the latest public health reports on the 'obesity epidemic', citing a rise in the numbers of overweight children. The same reports often declare 'war on obesity' in an attempt to tackle this childhood issue which is an increasing problem in our modern society, due to its impact on overall health and the links between childhood and adult obesity.
The danger of sensationalising this issue means that it is often hard to get accurate information and practical advice on the causes and impact of childhood obesity.
Here are a few quality resources available from Early Childhood Australia that look at the issue of childhood obesity:
- Start them right - a parent's guide for healthy eating for under fives is a simple, practical booklet looking at healthy eating habits. Food habits and attitudes towards eating in early childhood can affect children's health and wellbeing both when young and later as adults.
- There's more to food than eating: Food foundation for children birth to eight years is a great manual concerning food, nutrition, and education. It covers all aspects of nutrition and includes interesting curriculum planning ideas, helpful tips and great recipes, providing children with a sound level of healthy food knowledge.
- Eat right, don't fight: A practical guide to feeding children from birth to the preschool years is a comprehensive resource that contains all you need to know about feeding your baby from birth to four years. This book will help parents solve their children's feeding problems and making eating fun and healthy.
- Everyday learning in the kitchen explains how talking with children about food will help them "to make better choices and to understand the importance of healthy food and a balanced diet" – an important aspect in the prevention of childhood obesity.
View a sample chapter here (400 Kb)
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- Early Childhood Australia's early childhood magazine, Every Child, has published a number of articles dealing with the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity. Click on the link to read a sample article: Understanding childhood obesity: A cause for concern' by Associate Professor Victor Nossar. Associate Professor Victor Nossar is Senior Paediatric Consultant at Child and Youth Health, SA. Another article which looks at the lifestyles of children, and how social trends that negatively affect our health can be combated is'A time to simply "be": Building resilient and happy children through relaxation techniques'. In this article, Patrice Thomas – university, author and stress management lecturer – states: 'More Australians are experiencing the stress-related problems of a sedentary lifestyle and childhood obesity is increasing at an alarming rate.'
Other interesting resources on the Internet dealing with the issue of childhood obesity – the risk factors, the causes, the consequences, and prevention:
- Child and Youth Health has a number of resources on childhood obesity. Click here for its recent Tip of the week: Limit TV viewing to help prevent childhood obesity. Another article which broadly covers the issue of childhood obesity is 'Weight problems in childhood'. The article is a good starting point for parents and carers of young children who are looking for practical advice and information on childhood obesity.
- The Zero to Three Journal recently published a '21st-century Challenges to Young Children's Health' issue (Vol. 25 No. 3 January 2005). A sample article from that issue is available online: 'What can we do to prevent childhood obesity?' by Julie Lumeng. Another article published in the Zero to Three Journal is 'How to feed babies and toddlers in the 21st century' which looks at how important good nutrition is and what healthy eating habits we should promote in young children.
- Jamie Oliver has launched the 'Feed Me Better' campaign to promote child health in the UK. http://www.feedmebetter.com/ is an outcome of his 'School Dinners' TV series. There is a resource pack available for teachers and parents, http://www.feedmebetter.com/getinvolved/FMBP17.pdf, which includes activities for children to teach them the value of fresh food.
Childhood obesity contributes significantly to the health and wellbeing of young children. Early Childhood Australia has a number of other resources which focus more generally on child health, and some which look at specific aspects of child health.