Healthy eating is important in order to obtain adequate amounts of nutrients essential for good health, growth and development. Physical activity is also important to help your child achieve a healthy weight and associated health benefits. Childhood is a period where education about healthy eating and physical activity is key to establishing healthy practices in later years.

You can maintain your child’s healthy weight by balancing the amount of energy going into their body (as food and drink) and the energy being used (to function and grow and physical activity). Eating a balanced diet and leading an active lifestyle can help them maintain a healthy weight.

Physic​al activity

  • Be more physically active, or 'move more'.
  • Children should be active every day in as many ways as they can, including incidental, moderate and rigorous physical activity.
  • Encourage family activities that include enjoyable physical activity for everyone.
  • Ensure a safe environment for children and their friends to engage in active play, e.g. swimming, cycling, ball sports.
  • Decrease the time spent in sedentary activities, e.g. watching TV, playing video and computer games.
  • Encourage 'active commuting' such as walking to school, the bus, or the shops when appropriate.

Healthy ea​ting

  • Follow the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating
  • Encourage the consumption of water and limit intake of sugary beverages, e.g. soft drinks.
  • Plan for healthy snacks and provide healthy options such as fresh fruit and vegetables, instead of snacks that are high in fat, sugars, and low in essential nutrients.
  • Avoid the use of food as either a reward, or withholding as a punishment.
  • Plan to eat home-cooked meals together as a family as often as possible.
  • Discourage eating meals or snacks while watching TV.
  • Encourage children to eat a healthy breakfast as a good way to start the day.

General sug​gestions

  • Overweight and obese children need support, acceptance, and encouragement from their parents and carers. Children should know that they are loved and appreciated regardless of their weight.
  • Focus on your child's health and positive qualities, not the child's weight.
  • Overweight and obese children should not be made to feel different. Gradually changing the family's physical activity and eating habits should be the focus, rather than the child's weight.

The Healthy Eating Active Living website provides information, resources and ideas on physical activity and healthy eating for kids and families.

Current as at: Tuesday 18 October 2022
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health