Children should be eating of side-plates, not full-sized plates, says new health guidelines
Irish children are getting fatter.
In fact, childhood obesity has become an alarming national health concern in recent years, with one in five Irish children now considered to be obese – and levels of obesity reaching epidemic proportions in recent years.
Recent research has found that as many as 19 percent of Irish children are overweight at age nine, with a whopping 26 percent outside the healthy range for their age.
And so now, new government guidelines on healthy eating is looking to help parents make better choices when feeding their children, with new recommendations given on both snacks and treats, as well as main meals.
Portion sizes is of major importance when it comes to making sure children are not being over-fed, and according to the new guidelines published earlier this week, children should be served meals on a side plate instead of a full-sized plate – and only be given a treat once a week.
The healthy eating recommendations in part of a new report from the Department of Health for children aged between one and 4.
It has designed a new food pyramid specific to a young child's diet, which says no more than three crisps or three jellies should be given as a weekly treat. It advises parents not to allow their children any fizzy drinks.
Health promotion policy advisor at the department, Ursula O'Dwyer, says it's important to get into good habits from a young age.
Ms O'Dwyer said: "Good healthy eating habits started early can last a lifetime. There's quite a lot of evidence to show that and scientists have said for quite a while now that this is the best bang for your buck so to speak in educating these children, because the habits will last a lifetime and they won't get into bad habits to early on."