Parents have the single biggest influence over their children’s risk of obesity. Mothers should aim for a normal weight before pregnancy, appropriate weight gain during pregnancy, and exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months. Research studies have shown that babies that have been fed only breastmilk for the first 6 months (exclusive breastfeeding) have a lower risk of becoming obese. Parents should introduce nutritious foods and healthy eating habits from six months onwards and lead by example to create an active lifestyle for the whole family.

  • Avoid taking your children to fast food restaurants and serving meals that are high in added sugar, salt and fat. 
  • Don’t reward your children with sweets, sweet drinks and fatty foods. The South African government has joined the fight against obesity by introducing a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks, strategies to increase school sport and legislation to restrict the advertising of unhealthy foods to children.EE
  • Ensure children eat home cooked meals using fresh ingredients, especially a variety of fresh orange and green leafy vegetables. 
  • Parents should control what foods and drinks are in the home to be served as meals or snacks. Among those health foods, such as fruit and vegetables, allow children to choose whether to eat or not and how much to eat. 
  • Avoid high calorie snack foods, biscuits and cakes that are high in sugar and fats, sweets and sweet fizzy drinks. 
  • Bake, broil or grill meats instead of frying them and cut off excess fat.