Back to school tips for a healthy 2018

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Image of kids playing on the playground
Summer is nearly over and kids all over the state are getting ready to hit the books for another year. You’ve got the uniform sorted, the pens, rulers and exercise books, and you’re making plans to get everyone to the classroom before the bell rings.

It’s an ideal time to give a little thought to our kids’ health and wellbeing.

CEO of the Heart Foundation Tasmania Graeme Lynch says that the disturbing trend of our kids becoming overweight needs arresting, and school life provides some terrific opportunities to achieve that by supporting parents and carers’ efforts in encouraging children to eat well and be active.

“More than one-quarter of Tasmanian children are overweight or obese, with many not getting the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity each day,” said Mr Lynch.

“Going back to school can mean longer periods of sitting at the desk and extra screen time, so the Heart Foundation is encouraging schools and parents to look for opportunities to increase kids’ activity and encourage healthier eating as part of the school week.”

Australian children are among the most chauffeured in the world, with only half of our kids riding, scooting or walking to school once a week or more.

“Small opportunities to walk or ride more often help children to realise that there are ways to travel other than in a car.”

Healthier lunchboxes and canteens are another avenue where parents and teachers can effect positive change. Mr Lynch said that when it comes to a kid’s lunch there’s no need to play the shame game.

“It’s quite okay to have the odd snack or treat that our kids all love. What’s important is our kids’ long-term dietary pattern, and schools can help with that by making healthy choices available and explaining to kids the benefits of healthy eating.”

 6 ideas for keeping school children active and healthy:

  1. Pick a day you can walk to or from school together – even consider parking the car a little further from the school.
  2. Limit screen time to two hours a day.
  3. Be a positive role model and teach your children about healthy living through your own food and activity choices.
  4. Plan ahead to avoid having to grab ‘easy’ pre-packaged foods. Involve the kids too – let them help to choose and prepare healthy school lunches.
  5. Offer water if your child is hungry between meals. Children often think they're hungry when they're actually thirsty. Give them a fun reusable water bottle they’ll enjoy using.
  6. Encourage your child to eat slowly and recognise when they are full. It's OK for them to leave food on their plate.

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Media Officer Bruce Ransley:, 0419 710 083