A quarter of children in the UK are estimated to be clinically obese, that’s 1 in 4, making this in my mind one of the most critical problems of our time. In the last twenty years obesity has trebled, and unless drastic steps are taken now, within 10 years it is most likely that obesity will become the number one cause of death in this country.
Facts and figures
Half of all children could be obese by 2020* (Lobstein et. al. 2005)An obese child is twice as likely to become an obese adult, and this risk is increased five fold if the child has obese parents* (Whitaker et al. 1997)
Obesity is associated with the onset of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease
The economic cost of obesity in England is estimated at well over £7.5 billion a year* (House of Commons Select Committee, 2004)
Poor diet and a sedentary lifestyle composed of TV viewing and computer game playing are contributing to an increase in childhood obesity
Around 46% of men in England and 32% of women are overweight – so the situation gets no better in adulthood.
Lets not ignore the true cost of obesity. I’m not talking about the physical cost to the NHS. I’m talking about the dangers associated to Obesity. Obesity is associated with a multitude of medical conditions. For example: Obesity is associated with the development of osteoarthritis of the hand, hip, back, and knees.Obesity increases the risk of breast cancer in men and women.
It is strongly associated with cancer of the esophagus.
Obese women have three to four times the risk of endometrial cancer than women with lower BMI. Obesity increases cardiovascular disease risk because of its effect on blood lipid levels. Obesity is a major risk factor for heart attack.
Gallstones are common in overweight and obese persons.
Obesity decreases the body’s resistance to harmful organisms.
Obesity is the most common factor of nonalcoholic steatophepatitis, a major cause of liver disease.
These are just some examples of how obesity negatively affects the health of a person.If that doesn’t paint a picture to encourage us to avoid obesity, maybe its association to a few other health problems, will give you the last nudge you need. Obesity is also associated with:
Heart disease and high blood pressureDiabetes type 2 (adult onset)
Health experts subscribe to the idea that physical exercise and a balanced diet is paramount when it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and combating obesity. To avoid an increase in the size of the obese adult population and the consequential serious health problems this brings, experts recommend that physical education and activity are pursued and promoted in childhood. It is essential to get children interested in exercise and keep them interested for the long term.Ideally, children should participate in one hour of moderate intensity activity per day, and at least twice a week activities should focus on muscular strength and flexibility (Twisk, 2001).
Anyone who has in their life been over weight, knows that losing weight can seem like an unwinnable war. They know that they must eat less and exercise more, but that’s nearly impossible when everything in adult life — from job stress to family crises to the temptation of fast and fatty foods — encourages them to do the opposite. A healthy diet and regular exercise are certainly the best weapons against weight gain. It is essential that our children learn this when they are still young, without all the additional problems that adulthood brings.
So do your children a favour for life, show them your wisdom, and teach them that the road to obesity is driven by fast foods, chocolate, crisps, cakes and sweets, and a sedentary lifestyle, involving no exercise. Alternatively by eating healthily, and getting themselves into the habit of taking regular exercise they will not only look great, but be able to live a far healthier life.