Children and young people should eat a healthy, balanced diet to maintain good health and help them to feel their best.
This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight.
According to the NHS Eat Well guide a healthy, balanced diet should include:
- five portions of fruit and vegetables every day
- meals based on starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- unsaturated oils and spreads, eaten in small amounts
- plenty of fluids.
Foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar – such as fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate – should be consumed less often and in small amounts.
Read more about understanding calories.
Very overweight children tend to grow up to be very overweight adults, which can lead to health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
Research shows children who achieve a healthy weight tend to be fitter, healthier, better able to learn, and are more self-confident. They’re also less likely to have low self-esteem and be bullied.
Steps for success:
- Get active – All children need about 60 minutes of physical activity a day for good health, but it doesn’t need to be all at once. Several short 10-minute or even 5-minute bursts of activity throughout the day can be just as good as an hour-long stretch.
- Eat healthy meals – Children, just like adults, should aim to eat five or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day. They’re a great source of fibre and vitamins and minerals.
- Less screen time and more sleep – Try to avoid the amount of time spent sitting down or doing inactive hobbies such as watching TV or playing video games. Sleep is important too. Children who sleep for the recommended amount are less likely to be overweight.