What is a healthy weight?
Children are at their healthiest when they stay within a healthy weight range for their height and their age. However, it’s not always easy to tell if a child is a healthy weight for their age, because every child is unique. There’s no perfect ‘one size fits all’ measure, but the Body Mass Index (BMI) is commonly used for children and teenagers from 2 through to 19 years, to compare a child’s weight and height to see if it’s in balance.
BMI gives an indication of whether your child is in a healthy weight range or if they are tending towards being overweight or underweight. You can find out your child’s BMI using the BMI percentile calculator on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
How do I read food labels?
Food labels can be confusing, however knowing what nutritional information to look for can help you make the right decisions in terms of avoiding unnecessary fats, added salt and added sugars and make the best choices for your family’s health.
Labels on most packaged foods must meet strict requirements in terms of food additive listings and food storage instructions, and the most important food label in terms of choosing healthy food is the Nutrition Information Panel.
This offers the simplest way of choosing healthier foods and can also be used to decide how large one serve of a Food Group or discretionary food choice (the ones best eaten in only small amounts) would be, and whether it is ‘kilojoule worthy’. The panel enables you to compare similar packaged foods and to decide which of them contains less saturated fat, salt, added sugars and kilojoules per 100gm.
Other useful tools for gauging the nutritional value of packaged foods are the Health Star Rating system, the Ingredients List and the Percentage Daily Intake figures. More information about these can be found on the Department of Health’s website.