Fighting Child Obesity In The Uk

1919 words - 8 pages

In the 21st century childhood obesity is regarded as one of the most serious public health challenges faced by the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2013). Figures recorded by the National Child Measurement programme for the 2011/12 period showed children aged 10-11, of which 14.7% were overweight and a further 19.2% figure were classed as obese. Statistics from the same report also indicate boys in the same age group are more likely to be obese with a figure of 20.7% compared to a 17.7% figure for girls. These figures are a large cause for concern for both these children and on a wider scale, society. Obesity is caused by a number of factors that can range from the not so obvious of social class, to the clear lack of exercise and poor diet. Obese or overweight children are more likely to carry this status into adulthood and put themselves at an increased risk of developing associated health problems such as raised cholesterol, high blood pressure and even premature mortality (Public Health England, 2013). Obesity is defined as the over consumption of calories in relation to little physical activity, this means calories consumed are not being burnt but turned into fat cells (NHS, 2012).
Although inherited conditions have been linked to childhood obesity, they are rare. However it has been noted that children with obese or overweight parents are more than likely to be obese themselves, the reason for this as described by Heaton-Harris (2007) is because of the length of time it takes to break a bad habit. Unless the parents are correctly informed of healthy diets themselves the problem will continue from an ill-informed childhood into adult hood. Other probable causes are numerous ones. Fast food and processed foods becoming more readily available. Currie et al (2009) indicates that the probability of child obesity increases by 5.2% if there is a fast food outlet within 0.1 miles of a school. These fast foods lead to a poor diet with high levels of sugars and salts (Bupa, 2013). People resort to these foods for convenience because of a lack of time and knowledge to prepare and cook nutritional and healthy meals. They are considered less time consuming and tastes appealing.
Back about four decades ago as Stunkard et al (1972) stated, it would seem that obesity was less frequent in higher socioeconomic settings, this would suggest the rising cost of fruit and vegetables nowadays seems to not be so much of a issue in affluent families. Whereas a lower income based family may not be able to maintain the provision of these foods continually (National Obesity Observatory, 2012). This is where junk food or processed food can also be used as substitute to a healthy diet. It is this type of fast food that is deemed to be ‘cheaper’ by the average working class family than naturally grown produce (Bittman, 2011). A walk into any supermarket shows that items like crisps, chocolate and fizzy drinks advertised on the end of aisles, promoting that they are in a...

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