There has been a lot in the press lately about obesity in children, as their lives are spent watching a lot of television, playing computer games and generally watching sport rather than taking part in it. It is up to parents, grandparents and friends to try and change the youngsters’ lifestyles.

There are so many different ways to encourage children to take part in physical activities. If the weather is good, which it is most of the summer months, make the most of it and take the whole family out. That way, not only are you getting the children out, but you will also benefit from getting out of the house, meeting people and seeing places of interest. If you are interested in sport, just kicking a ball around on the beach or in the park will give you a boost as well. There are so many different activities you can join in with the family – all sorts of bat and ball games, flying a kite, skipping, running, to name just a few.

Last month we did some articles on cycling – this again could involve the whole family. Imagine cycling down little lanes or tracks and seeing some of the beautiful flowers or wild life that you would not normally see. How about going horse riding? There is nothing nicer than taking a leisurely hack down lanes that you could never take a car. There are various riding centres around and they are all ready and waiting for you!

Children learn from example, so if you spend most of your time in front of the television, they will probably do the same. Here in Spain, we are spoilt with the weather and most of the time you can go to the beach, but again, don’t just sit there all day doing nothing. If you get up and do some exercise, the children will usually join you and then you could end up with other children taking an interest.

Of course food and diet are very important to children and adults alike, but it is the adults who should be setting a good example to the children. Make sure you have a good, sensible breakfast before you go out for the day. This will stop the children from wanting snacks during the morning, before you go to off for lunch. The Spanish tend to eat their main meal at about 2pm and this is usually a leisurely affair with the whole family spending up to two hours eating and drinking. How often are you on the beach and suddenly the place is deserted – the Spanish have gone off for their lunch. Not only do they keep out of the sun during the really hot afternoon, but they enjoy their meal times with the family.

When you have children around, get them to help you with some of the household chores. It will help them to feel that they are an important part of the family, but it will also give them some exercise without their actually thinking about it! Vacuuming, dusting, cooking, weeding or washing the car should be part of a child’s upbringing and you can make it fun by singing along with them or letting them play their own music while they help (don’t say the dreaded word – work!). Let them cook something they like, but try to make the food healthy and they will grow up hopefully liking healthy food. Try to roast or poach food so that you are not using too much fat etc.

If children see you being active and enjoying it, this may encourage them to do the same.