- The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has released new guidelines for health workers about preventing obesity in children
- Say parents should be encouraged to make their children more active
- Also suggest overweight children should keep a record of how much time they spend watching TV or playing computer games
The parents of overweight and obese children should be told to cut back the amount of ‘screen-time’ their children have.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has released new guidelines for health workers which say parents should be encouraged to find ways to make their children less sedentary in their daily life.
For example, overweight children should be encouraged to keep a record of how long they spend in front of a television or computer every day as a way of monitoring their activity levels.
The guidelines also state that NICE suggests health workers should ask parents to consider whether their children could walk to school.
Professor Mike Kelly, director of the Centre for Public Health at NICE, said ‘We are recommending family-based lifestyle programmes are provided which give tailored advice.
‘These programmes will also support parents to identify changes that can be done at home to tackle obesity – and maintained over the long-term.
‘Many of them are things we should all be doing anyway, including healthy eating, getting the whole family to be more active and reducing the amount of time spent watching TV and playing computer games.’
He added: ‘Being overweight or obese has a significant impact on a child’s quality of life.
‘It can affect their self-esteem and they are more likely to be bullied or stigmatised. Local commissioners – including local authorities – need to make sure that the right services are available when families need them.
‘They also need to be convenient and easy to access – so parents and their children can stick with them.’
NICE says parents in ‘denial’ about their children being obese should also be identified to prevent them becoming a barrier to weight loss.
The watchdog claims parents may undermine efforts to get fat children and teenagers to face up to the problem.
‘Efforts to manage a child or young person’s weight are not always supported, and are sometimes undermined, by members of the wider family,’ it said.’
‘This is possibly because of a lack of understanding of the aims of lifestyle weight management programmes and the importance of managing the weight of obese or overweight children and young people.
It added that a ‘lack of recognition, or denial’ can prevent them from joining, and adhering to, a weight management course.
These programmes can include Weight Watchers, which Nice has already approved as a way for GPs to assist patients in losing weight.
In 2011 in England, around 30 per cent of boys and girls aged two to 15 were either overweight or obese.
In the 2011/2012 school year, around 23 per cent of children in reception, and 34 per cent in year six, were either overweight or obese.