What the surveys are showing about kids (unhealthy) lifestyles

18 January 2019 | Wendy Watson

Our busy lifestyles, rushing to and from work and school, can make it hard to eat a healthy diet and to get enough exercise. It often seems like the easy option to choose unhealthy snacks and takeaway foods and spend too much time in front of the TV or computer. But these choices are not the best for our family’s health and the stats for NSW show one in five children and more than one in two adults are an unhealthy weight.

The latest NSW surveys show that children:

  • are not eating enough fruit and vegetables with only 3 in 5 (60%) eating enough fruit and 1 in 20 (5%) eating enough vegetables
  • are eating too many unhealthy snacks and too much takeaway food with half of all children eating an unhealthy snack everyday
  • are drinking too many sugary drinks with close to half of all children drinking them regularly
  • are not getting enough exercise with only around 1 in 5 meeting the recommendation to do at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity every day.

It’s important for children to develop healthy eating and exercise habits that they can continue throughout their lives.

There are some simple habits that can help to lead a healthier lifestyle

Choose water over soft drinks:

  • Serve chilled water with meals
  • Freeze water bottles for school and ditch the juice poppers

Eat more fruit and vegetables

  • Aim for 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables every day. Aim for at least one serve of each in the lunch box
  • Only drink fruit juice occasionally (half a cup is a serve) and dilute it with ice

Choose fruit, vegetables, yoghurt and wholegrains bread or crackers as snacks instead of crisps, hot chips, biscuits and cakes

Limit takeaway food that is high in saturated fat, salt and sugar.

  • Use the nutrition information on hand at most fast food restaurants and choose items with less kilojoules, small serve sizes or share a serve and go for those that have some salad
  • Stock the pantry and fridge with healthy convenience foods like salad mixes, tinned beans, tuna, precooked brown rice which you can use to make quick meals
  • Try making your own pizza and burgers and add extra vegetables
  • Keep some home cooked meals in the freezer for days when there is no time to cook

Get active – turn off the screen and get moving

  • For older children, aim for at least an hour of physical activity every day and no more than 2 hours of screen time. Two to five year olds should have less than 1 hour of screen time.

Not sure about the recommended types and amounts of foods for your family? See the Eat for Health website. The recommendations for children of different ages can be found here

Check out Cancer Council NSW’s healthy lunch box website for ideas, inspiration and recipes that include lots of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.

The Heathy Lunch Box website was created by Cancer Council NSW to save you time and money, and our clever tips for adding fruit and vegetables to your diet can set yourself and your family on a path of lifelong healthy eating, to reduce your cancer risk. Help us continue our work in cancer prevention – Donate now