Will these 17 rules keep your child healthy?

This list of lifestyle changes have been adopted across Denmark to curb childhood obesity


Families who diet together, succeed together – that’s what a Danish doctor says after he came up with a list of 17 short, sharp lifestyle rules to combat obesity.


While these guidelines are aimed at curbing childhood weight issues, according to the good doctor, Dr Jens Christian Holm, they must be followed by the whole family to work. So if you’re looking at those doughnuts above – stop now! 

The rules are not just about portion sizes, but instead focus on different areas of your family’s lifestyle – particularly those that could end up being unhealthy.

A pilot scheme with 1,900 patients helped 70% of patients to maintain normal weight, and Dr Holm believes the project is a significant breakthrough in the battle against childhood obesity.

So what does it involve?

The children are given personalised plans containing 15-20 guidelines, which could include:

  1. Dish up portions in the kitchen – don’t have pots and pans at the dining table
  2. No crunchy muesli or fruit yoghurts for breakfast. Choose oatmeal or dark brown bread instead – oh, and it says meat and fish too. Well, it is a Danish list
  3. No fast food or white bread for lunch; choose brown bread, meat, fish and vegetables instead
  4. Plate proportions for dinner should be: half vegetables, a quarter brown rice, pasta or potatoes, and a quarter low fat fish or meat
  5. Wait 20 minutes before having second helpings – this allows time for the body to feel full
  6. Feel satisfied after each meal
  7. Only two pieces of fruit per day – we assume it’s suggested that the rest of the 5 a day come from vegetables
  8. Fast food only once a month
  9. Sweets only once a week
  10. Snacks only once a week
  11. Limit juice, iced tea, cocoa, soda or lemonade to once weekly – only half a litre in total
  12. Cycle or walk to school
  13. Organised physical activity eg dancing, handball or gymnastics
  14. Free physical activities like walking/biking after school, walking the dog or trampolining
  15. Screen time (television, computer or tablet) limited to two hours per day
  16. No television/computer access until 5pm
  17. Set a regular, early bedtime

At the beginning of the programme, children are admitted to hospital for 24 hours for extensive testing, including body scans to measure their body fat. Each child is then given personalised treatment plan, which targets 15-20 daily habits – similar to the ones suggested above.

“Their entire life needs to be changed,” Dr Holm explains,”because they tend to be lonely, tend to be ashamed of themselves so they need to do this, and to interact with other children in their daily lives.” 

So how many of these rules do you already follow? Are there any you would find particularly difficult to adopt? Come on, be honest!

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