Last updated: 02 Feb, 2018

Opinion piece by Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO

First published in Sunraysia Daily, 02 February 2018

The start of a new school year is a great time to build healthy habits for your family.

Helping our kids to get active is critical for their health and wellbeing – we know that currently two-thirds of kids aren’t getting the physical activity they need to be healthy.

As your kids start school for the year, it’s a fantastic opportunity to help them get more physical activity into their day by walking, riding or scooting to and from school.

We know that Victorian kids love walking to school – during our Walk to School program in 2017, 140,000 kids across the state took part and walked, rode and scooted more than 1.6 million kilometres to and from school. That’s the same as two return trips to the moon!

With the warm weather and energy from their summer holidays, it’s a great time to continue walking, riding or scooting to and from school. Even walking part-way can make a real difference, so try parking a few streets away from school and walking the rest if the whole way is too far.

Another way to help boost kids’ health is to pack their lunchboxes with fresh, healthy food. New research from the Heart Foundation shows that typical ‘go-to’ school lunchbox options such as a ham and cheese sandwich can deliver more than half of schoolkids’ entire recommended daily salt intake. Instead try roast chicken and avocado on multigrain bread, or an egg and avocado sandwich, as both contain less than a gram of salt.

We also know that many kids’ snacks contain excessive amounts of sugar, fat and salt so try swapping foods like biscuits, chips and juice boxes for vegetable sticks, nuts, fruit and water.

Making little changes can make a big difference to your family’s health. For more healthy tips visit www.vichealth.vic.gov.au

Jerril Rechter

CEO, VicHealth

Carlton

For confirmations call Rachel Murphy, VicHealth Senior Media Advisor on 0435 761 732 or email rmurphy@vichealth.vic.gov.au