At least that’s what Guidelines say you should do! And -most importantly- what children should do as well! According to UK Guidelines young children should have at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous exercise and eat five portions of fruit and vegetables. But do they?
We recently published a study reporting that at least UK children do not. Only 7% of the boys and 5% of the girls followed both the above recommendations. The numbers were slightly better when looking into physical activity alone (29% of boys and 17% of girls), while 7% of boys and 11% of girls followed the fruit and vegetable guideline only. In this study, there seemed to be some ethnic and socioeconomic patterns, as Pakistani and Bangladeshi youth were less likely to meet both guidelines, as were boys coming from lower income households.
Before you go ahead and judge, take a time to think about *you*. Do you eat five portions of fruit and veg per day? I wouldn’t be able to answer about myself, as -I must confess- I am not sure what exactly one portion corresponds to. Quite obviously, one piece of fruit is one portion, but how about, let’s say, putting salad on your cheese sandwich? Does this count as a portion and if yes how many portions does a full size salad amount to? And what about exercise? What is vigorous and what is moderate? Vigorous for me or against a golden standard? So if we can’t answer these questions for ourselves, how can we ensure that our children follow the guidelines?
Do not despair! Internet has always (some) answers! The NHS Choices website offers various resources on what counts as a portion of fruit and veg and also creative ideas on how to include them to you (and your family’s) daily routine. Still, not as creative as the lunchbox picture here! (thank you Melissa– visit this site for more nice lunchbox pictures!). It still doesn’t answer my cheese sandwich question though. But I figured it out here: one leaf of lettuce in my sandwich won’t count; need to be one cereal bowl worth of lettuce. That’d be a fat (albeit not fatty) sandwich! Another website that includes resources both for tracking your fitness and food choices is the SuperTracker! Give it a go, looks quite motivating!
What do you do to make sure that you (and your children) eat healthy and exercise regularly? Do you have family activities to ensure enough exercise? Do you do it in order to follow the recommendations or is it a part of your routine anyway? How do you deal with children who do not want to eat their vegetables? Share your stories!