NSW Health is asking families still completing their Christmas shopping to think about giving healthy and active Christmas presents to their children, family and friends this year.
NSW Centre for Population Health Executive Director, Dr Jo Mitchell, said active toys for children was high on NSW Health’s Christmas wish list this year, given NSW Premier, Mike Baird, has made reducing childhood obesity one of the top 12 NSW Government priorities.
"Active toys have a range of health benefits that help children learn how to play and interact as well as sharing with others," Dr Mitchell said.
"Most importantly, they help develop fundamental movement skills and encourage children to be more physically active while having fun.
"Presents such as hula hoops, balls, sports gear, bikes, scooters, sandpits, swing sets, push/pull along toys, beach toys, modelling clay and gardening tools can play an important role in a child’s development."
Dr Mitchell said having active toys on the Christmas gift list was especially important, given the high rates of childhood overweight and obesity in Australia.
"With over one in four children and more than 50 per cent of adults in NSW being overweight or obese, the need to encourage everyone to be more physically active is a major health issue.
"Giving at least one gift that requires some physical activity will encourage both children and adults to be more active. Parents can triple the fun by joining in the activities and by spending extra time with their children.
"Christmas is a great opportunity for people to focus on having active exercise times with their children.
"Getting out and doing things together like flying a kite, or a game of backyard cricket can be a great way for everyone to be active together. Stocking fillers like and balls, kites, skipping ropes or water pistols can provide hours of summer fun.
"Sporting club/group memberships could also encourage children to take up a new physical activity that they enjoy.
"We encourage people to think of ways to encourage your child and also your family to become more active together. This might include walking or cycling to the shops. After all, family time together is the best present of all."
For ideas on how to be active as a family: http://www.healthykids.nsw.gov.au/parents-carers/physical-activity/active-living-for-families.aspx