New Zealand is leading the way in childhood obesity rates compared to the US and the UK with over 36% of our New Zealand children considered overweight or obese.

It is a long-held belief among the medical community that a diet high in fat is the main contributor to the causes of colon cancer and new studies show that obesity is now considered the prime candidate.

Scientists at the National Institutes of Health in the US recently fed mice a diet rich in fat. The American Medical Agency found that molecular signals in the mouse gut led to the progression of cancer and patterns from the obese mice resembled those from mice with colorectal cancer. Fat cells can trigger tumour growths in the colon suggesting the obese mice are predisposed to colon cancer.

New Zealand overweight/obese figures include 60% of all Pacific Island origin children and 40% of all Maori children, according to NZ Nutrition Foundation.

Other figures released this year from the Royal College of Pediatrics in the UK says Childhood obesity in Britain costs the government over $4.2 billion a year with 33% (one in three children aged between two and nineteen years old) is considered overweight/obese.

The US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), puts 33.2% of US children in the overweight category with 17% of these considered obese.

Children are considered obese when their body mass index, a measure of weight in relation to height, exceeds that of 95% of their peers of the same age and sex.

Calculate your child’s BMI here. If you are concerned with your child's weight please seek the help of a Doctor or Pediatrician.

If you or your children are over-weight you are predisposed to a number of different cancers including colon cancer. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising frequently is the number one strategy to lower the risk of colon cancer for children and adults.

3 Easy ways to reduce childhood obesity

There’s no single cause of childhood obesity but the following 3 tips will help reduce the risks.

1. Get moving!!

Children these days do less physical activity which may be due to schools cutting down on the fitness programs or for the fact they lead more sedentary lifestyles in front of the TV or iPad.

Kids don’t walk to school as frequently as adults used to for safety reasons but experts recommend they must get vigorously active for at least 60 minutes every day. Enroll your child in after school activities such as soccer or swimming and take them to the park on the weekends.

Click here for activity ideas based upon child age groups from Push Play NZ.

2. Keep up the fruit & Vege’s

As a working parent, it’s so easy to pack your kid's lunch boxes with convenient pre-packaged goodies such as chips and fizzy drinks rather than take the time to prepare fruit and veg, dairy and whole grain snacks.

Try to reduce or remove unhealthy snacks from the house so you are not tempted. Remember kids tend to eat what they have helped prepare so involve them right from the grocery buying stage to the preparation of their own lunchbox.

Schools are pretty good at teaching children what is healthy and what is not so more than likely your child will teach you!

Click here to register for the 5+ a day challenge in February 2015 to see if your family measures up

3. Start the day with a filling breakfast

Children will stay full for longer and be less likely to snack later in the day.

Try a breakfast such as whole-grain cereal with fruit and low-fat milk, eggs on whole-wheat toast, or a fruit smoothie made with low-fat yoghurt.