Healthy Lifestyle Tips for Children

We want to establish healthy lifestyle patterns in childhood to improve people’s physical and mental health and prevent childhood obesity and its associated diseases¹. This can be achieved by encouraging:

  • Healthy dietary practices
  • Physical activity
  • Limiting screen time of tv, phones, tablets etc.

Here are a few tips for encouraging healthy, active lifestyles

  • The goal is for children to be healthy and strong
  • Lifestyle changes that involve both the family and schools give best results
  • Small, gradual changes may be easier to maintain
  • Praise children and teens for successes and help them develop a good self-image
  • Ensure adequate sleep

Healthy food shopping
• Look at food labels when buying
• Avoid foods high in saturated fats, sugars and sodium
• Encourage children to choose healthy foods they want to eat

Healthy food preparation
• Avoid frying foods, instead bake, broil, steam or grill
• Add fresh fruits to cereal, pancakes and muffins
• Serve vegetables at each meal
• Serve foods rich in fibre such as fruit, vegetables, wholegrain bread and pasta, brown rice, grains, oats, peas, lentils and beans

Healthy Meals
• Encourage breastfeeding for infants less than 2 years, when possible²
• Eat together as a family as much as possible
• Avoid eating meals in front of the television
• Try to have meals at regular times
• Eat slowly
• Wait at least 20 minutes before taking a second helping
• Try not to use food as a reward or punishment
• Limit the use of packaged snacks

Healthy drinks

  • Swap sweetened drinks, including juice, for water as often as possible
  • Juice should be limited to 100% juice, not from concentrate and have no added sugar

Physical activity

  • Physical activity refers to activity which involve bodily movement and can include
    • Exercise
    • Playing
    • Active transportation (walking, riding etc.)
    • House chores
    • Recreational activities
  • It should include aerobic/endurance, strength, flexibility, and coordination activities
  • Physical activity facilities do not have to be complicated or expensive
  • Children less than one year should be physically active several times a day in a variety of ways, particularly through interactive floor-based play
  • Children between 1 and 5 years should engage in at least 3 hours of physical activity daily
  • Children over 5 years should get at least 1 hour of physical activity daily
  • Time for physical activity can be broken up into shorter bouts
  • Start with short bouts and gradually increase frequency, duration, and intensity

Screen time

  • For children less than two years, sedentary screen time (time watching TV or videos, playing video games) is not recommended
  • For children 2 years and older, limit sedentary screen time to less than 2 hours per day
  • When sedentary, activities such as reading or storytelling for younger children should be encouraged

“Achieving health for all means doing what is best for health right from the beginning of people’s lives.”

-Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General



  1. To grow up healthy, children need to sit less and play more. https://wwwwhoint/news-room/detail/24-04-2019-to-grow-up-healthy-children-need-to-sit-less-and-play-more. 2019Apr
  1. Diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases [Internet]. World Health Organization. World Health Organization; 2014 [cited 2019Jul5]. Available from:
  1. World Health Organization. (‎2019)‎. Guidelines on physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep for children under 5 years of age: summary. World Health Organization. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO
  1. Global recommendations on physical activity for health [Internet]. World Health Organization. World Health Organization; 2015 [cited 2019Jul5]. Available from: