Parents often get conflicting advice from different people and sources making it hard to know who to listen to and what to believe.
The government has set some practical guidelines so you can know exactly what your children should be eating and how much activity they should be doing to be and stay healthy.
How much should my child be eating?
The table below shows how many serves of each food group children should be eating every day.
||Bread, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles
||Milk, yoghurt, cheese
||Meat, fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes
|Children 4-7 years
||½ - 1
|Children 8-11 years
|Adolescents 12-18 years
View the Australian guide to healthy eating for children and adolescents.
How active should my child be?
Children need at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity every day. 'Moderate' physical activity uses the major muscle groups and will increase their heart rate. 'vigorous' activity will get them huffing and puffing. Children should not spend more than two hours a day on activities such as watching TV, playing video games or surfing the net ("screen-time").
View the government's physical activity recommendations for children.
Tips for parents!
Making small changes can make a big difference to your family's health.
Here are some of our top tips to help keep your loved ones healthy:
- Children are excellent imitators and copy what they see around them. It's important to be a positive role model and teach your children about healthy living through your own food and activity choices.
- Be careful about giving food as a reward or as a display of love.
- Limit 'screen-time' to less than two hours a day.
- Include plenty of fruit and vegetables in meals and snacks.
- Offer water if your child is hungry between meals. Children often think they're hungry when they're actually thirsty.
- Let your child help choose and prepare healthy meals and snacks.
- Encourage your child to eat slowly and recognise when they are full. It's OK for them to leave food on their plate.
- Eat For Health - the official Australian guide to healthy eating for adolescents and children from the Australian government.
- Health.gov.au - the government's physical activity recommendations for children.
- Food Balance - a game designed to help children aged between 4 and 13 years learn about healthy eating.
- Nature Play WA - for great ideas to get your children involved in outdoor activities in WA.
- The Parents' Jury - an online network of parents, grandparents and guardians, who are interested in improving the food and physical activity environments of Australian children.
- WASCA - the Western Australian School Canteen Association, an independent non-profit assisting schools and community groups to establish and maintain healthy, profitable food services.
- Department of Sport and Recreation - use the 'find a club' tool to search for clubs for your children to join.
- Healthy Schools Network ACT - a collaboration of local government and Not-For-Profit organisations that actively promote health and wellbeing in ACT primary schools, secondary schools and early childhood.
- Physical Activity Foundation - Ride or Walk to School - One of the easiest ways for children to contribute to their 60 minutes of daily physical activity is to ride or walk to school. There are more than 50 ACT schools committed to promoting and encouraging students to use active travel to get to school via the Ride or Walk to School Program.