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WellChild Week 10-16 May 2004

WellChild Week 10-16 May 2004 – Encouraging physical activity and healthy eating to curb childhood obesity

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board has teamed up with Sport Hawke’s Bay and over 20 organisations to host a Tamariki Ora/WellChild Fair from 10:00am – 2:00pm on Tuesday 11 at the Pettigrew Green Arena.

The fun day is aimed at pre-schoolers, their parents and caregivers. Stalls will cover a range of subjects, including child nutrition, physical activities, giveaways and demonstrations.

There will also be opportunities for pre-schoolers to enroll with the dental service and have their ears checked. Parents will be able to get the low down on health, education and social services available for children.

Sport Hawke’s Bay have organised mini Olympics to take place between 10:00am and 11:00am which will see preschoolers tossing bean-bags, kicking soccer balls, and jumping over and under hurdles, amongst other challenging physical pursuits. “With the incidence of childhood obesity rising, we wanted to do something practical to help parents and caregivers get the information they need to help combat the problem,” said Joan Plowman, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board’s child health programme coordinator.

“As well as getting fatter, many of these children are suffering malnutrition, they’re getting too much energy and not enough vitamins and minerals. Low iron and folate levels are commonplace. With children’s waist measurements growing each year, there is an increase in insulin levels, and we’re seeing a disturbing rise in the incidence of children with Type 2 diabetes.

“Providing healthy food doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive,” Joan said. “In Hawke’s Bay we have an abundance of fresh produce. Parents need to encourage children to eat more fruit and vegetables – cutting them into sticks or wedges can make them more appealing to younger children.

“Reducing your child’s fat intake, then cutting down on refined starches and sugars is a great start. You don’t have to cut them out altogether, just reduce the amounts – you can do it gradually…start giving the kids rice crackers instead of chippies. Most rice crackers contain around 3% fat, compared to more than 30% for crisps.

A 100 gram ‘kids pack’ of chips (crisps) contains 30.7 grams of fat, while a 100gram pack of cheese-flavoured snacks weighs in with 35.4 grams of fat.

Joan said the other part of the equation was ensuring children get enough exercise, and spend time outdoors every day. “Children aren’t designed to sit down and be quiet. They want to race around, yahoo and play with their friends, and this should be encouraged by parents and caregivers.

“Parents who make healthy food choices, and make exercise a part of everyday life, have a much better chance of influencing their children’s behaviour and habits,” Joan Plowman said.

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