Parents told not to use buggies for three-year-olds

Westminster Council wants them to encourage their children to walk in battle to stave off obesity

Parents should stop using buggies for three-year-olds and make their youngsters walk instead, says Westminster Council, which is looking to cut down on growing levels of child obesity.

The borough suffers from the highest rate of obesity among 10 and 11-year-olds in the country with almost a third classed as obese.

In a bid to tackle the problem, the council is now recommending measures to encourage a healthy lifestyle from pre-school age.

“While local authorities have a part to play it is ultimately the responsibility of parents and carers to tackle this issue,” said children boss Cllr Nickie Aiken.

“By taking steps such as encouraging their children to walk to school, to eat healthily or stop using buggies on short trips at the age of three, they can help ensure their children lead an active life.

“From our experience the key to really making a difference to our children’s lives is early intervention to tackle the root of the issue.”

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Ms Aiken, who has children aged five and seven, added that walking with young children was not always easy for time-pressed parents but she said she “gets very frustrated” at children as old as five using a buggy.

The idea has also received the backing of public health minister Anne Milton.

Maida Vale mother Dawn Kelly, who has a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, said: “I use the buggy a lot with my daughter because it’s safer on busy streets and useful for longer journeys that her little legs wouldn’t handle.

“But she does walk for short distances and if she gets into the nursery school nearby she will be able to walk there.

“A lot of the time I have her strapped in to the buggy to take her to a place where she already gets a lot of exercise like swimming, football or playing in the park.

“I would consider reducing buggy usage – my daughter prefers to walk so we have already reduced its use – it’s just the distances and safety that are the two big concerns.”

Ms Kelly says one scheme that has helped her is Mini KickStart, a free NHS-run initiative open to Westminster residents with two to five-year-olds that teaches about nutrition, portion size and play activities to keep young children healthy.