Personal Standpoint- Childhood Obesity

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Childhood obesity is becoming an ever-larger issue in today’s society, not just in the UK but many others such as the U.S and Canada one marvelling statistic that proves such a thing truly is an issue is that the obesity rate in children has almost tripled since 1963, which is a real problem, because not only are they unhealthy as kids, they grow up to be unhealthy adults, also according to WHO (World Health Organization) The number of overweight or obese infants and young children (aged 0 to 5 years) increased from 32 million globally in 1990 to 41 million in 2016. In the WHO African Region alone the number of overweight or obese children increased from 4 to 9 million over the same period. The vast majority of overweight or obese children live in developing countries, where the rate of increase has been more than 30% higher than that of developed countries. If current trends continue the number of overweight or obese infants and young children globally will increase to 70 million by 2025. The economic costs are great, too. In Britain, we spend more each year on the treatment of obesity and diabetes than we do on the police, fire service, and judicial system combined.

Consequences of Childhood Obesity

Obese children are more likely to develop a variety of health problems as adults. These include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Insulin resistance (often an early sign of impending diabetes)
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints)
  • Some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon)
  • Disability.

Contributors to Childhood Obesity

Two large contributing factors, in my belief, is that not many people eat a healthy enough diet and they also do not exercise enough, for example, only 2% of American children eat a healthy diet and over 25% do not participate in any involuntary physical activity. Also choosing healthy foods for infants and young children is critical because food preferences are established in early life. Feeding infants energy-dense, high-fat, high-sugar and high-salt foods is also a key contributor to childhood obesity.

However, there are many other contributing factors in childhood obesity, such as a lack of information about sound approaches to nutrition and poor availability and affordability of healthy foods contribute to the problem. The aggressive marketing of energy-dense foods and beverages to children and families further exacerbate it. In some societies, longstanding cultural norms (such as the widespread belief that a fat baby is a healthy baby) may encourage families to over-feed their children.

The increasingly urbanized and digitalized world offers fewer opportunities for physical activity through healthy play. Being overweight or obese further reduces children’s opportunities to participate in group physical activities. They then become even less physically active, which makes them likely to become more overweight over time.

Prevention of Childhood Obesity

Being overweight and obesity are largely preventable (however not always, such as in cases of Hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome). Supportive policies, environments, schools, and communities are fundamental in shaping parents’ and children’s choices, making the healthier choice of foods and regular physical activity the easiest choice (accessible, available and affordable), and therefore preventing obesity.

Also, I believe that the government is doing as good a job they can do, just one example of this is the sugar tax, as it will make families to choose against more sugary food and drink generally as to save more money. This will help poorer families perhaps eat healthier foods because, as shown in the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) poverty is generally linked with obesity a link between poverty and childhood obesity has been found in many developed countries. Intuitively, it seems likely this link is the result of poorer parents not being able to afford healthier food, like fruit, or outings involving exercise for their children.