Ngaio Miller and her son Kael.
Ngaio Miller and her son Kael.

Teaching kids good eating habits reduces risk of obesity

A STUDY has found weight gain from birth to 18 months is significantly associated with kids being overweight or obese later in childhood, highlighting the importance of instilling good eating habits in children.

Ngaio Miller is the mum of 20-month-old Kael. She was brought up with the foundations of a relatively healthy diet and lifestyle.

"My family were all into sports," she said.

And when it came to food, they tried to stay away from sugary sweets, bypassing them in the supermarket.

"It was just common sense. Having the food at home it's so much more tempting."

Ngaio said having a family of three children, her mum did use convenient foods such as chicken nuggets, but as a whole they ate a nutritious diet.

The 23-year-old said during pregnancy she didn't 'eat for two'.

"Of course you're going to eat more than usual, but when I was hungry I would try to eat something healthy."

Through the day she would have a small container of sweets and if she was still hungry, she would choose a healthier option.

"It was just standard food, but more of it."

A study by the University of Sydney followed 395 non-diabetic children born at two maternity hospitals in Sydney, from birth through to the age of eight.

It found weight gain during infancy was definitely linked to increased risks of obesity, high blood pressure and arterial wall thickening later in life.

Paper lead author, Dr Michael Skilton, said the study examined whether weight gain in infancy could be associated with higher incidence of obesity, higher blood pressure, systemic inflammation and arterial wall thickening in later childhood.

"The first 18 months of life are an important period of our growth and development," he said.

"Our study found early postnatal weight gain from birth to 18 months is significantly associated with later childhood overweight and obesity, as well as a poorer risk factor profile and greater arterial wall thickness."

Ngaio and partner Jai Bradney hope their healthy lifestyle rubs off on their son.

"It's all about leading by example," Ngaio said. "He's not going to learn if we're sitting in front of the TV eating unhealthy food."

She said following childbirth, it could be difficult to find the motivation to get back into a good fitness regime.

"But all you need to do is walk before breakfast - it increases your metabolism and burns more fat, because it's like you've been fasting overnight.

"It's definitely not worth stressing over though. Understand it may take time."