As a child, your most important job is to have fun and to grow up into a healthy happy young adult. When you were a baby, your local health nurse used to weigh you and check how long/tall you were. This was to make sure that you were growing properly.
Then when you started school you had your hearing testing and your eyes tested to make sure that you could hear and see properly. Now that you are older, it’s important to check that you are growing up to be healthy.
Everybody is a different shape and size but nowadays more and more teenagers are not as healthy as they could be. Some reasons for this include:
- The promotion and easy availability of unhealthy foods (food and drinks that are high in sugar, fat and salt)
- Using screens a lot (using TV, computer consoles, laptops, tablets or phones for 2 hours or more each day),
- Not moving around enough for healthy growth and development (not exercising their hearts and lungs)
- Not sleeping enough (which can affect our appetite and lead to weight gain).
If the amount of energy (from food or drinks) that we take into our body is more than the amount used, our bodies make fat tissue and our weight goes up. If the amount of energy is lower than the amount used, our bodies use up fat tissue and our weight goes down. If we put on too much weight while we are growing it can cause us problems. Some children will have pains and aches, others will find it hard to breathe when they play games and others may feel unhappy about how they look or embarrassed when they do PE.
Did you know that one quarter (25%) of Irish children are overweight?
To keep healthy, it is very important to develop a healthy lifestyle. By lifestyle, we mean our way of life, the things that we do (behaviours), the way we think (attitudes and beliefs) and how we feel (emotions). Very rarely our genetics can influence how our body gains weight no matter what type of lifestyle we have. More commonly though, the type of lifestyle we have can actually affect our genetics and cause certain genes to ‘turn on’ (like turning on a light-switch). When these genes are turned on, we can gain weight. Thankfully, we can also turn the switches off by being as healthy as possible!
Some top tips for a healthy lifestyle are:
- Eat healthily (eat a variety of different types of food)
- Have 3 meals and 2 healthy snacks each day
- Never skip breakfast (even if you’re in a hurry for school!)
- Be active for at least 60 minutes per day (60 mins of activity that makes you breathe harder and start to sweat)
- Try to actively commute to school (walk or cycle)
- Avoid sitting for more than 2-hours per day (get up and move every 20 minutes if possible)
- Sleep enough (children need at least 10 hours per night)
- Drink water every day
- Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks (as they are liquid sugar we don’t need to use energy to digest them so sugar just enters our body straight away!)