National Childhood Obesity Week

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Childhood obesity
The growing problem of childhood obesity

Yesterday saw the start of National Childhood Obesity Week amid worrying signs that Britain still has a long way to go to get to grips with the health risks facing our children.

An announcement from the NHS’s Change4Life campaign and MEND, the organisation promoting healthy weight and fitness among adults and children, revealed that children are falling well short of the government’s recommended levels of daily exercise.

The study by the University of Worcester’s Institute of Sport and Exercise Science found many youngsters in England are failing to get close to the government’s threshold of an hour of physical activity every day.

Previous information on four- to 15-year-olds from Health Survey England revealed only 33 per cent of boys and 21 per cent of girls got the recommended 60 minutes a day.

The Worcester University study of 40 children aged nine and 10 found the average daily time spent engaged in physical activity was 33 minutes. Most of their time was spent taking part in sedentary activities like watching TV, playing computer games or surfing the internet.

At the same time, parents are overestimating the amount of physical activity their children are doing by a factor of eight.

And over the weekend the Independent reported that half-a-million children are under threat from a liver disease “timebomb” fuelled by obesity and underage drinking.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is caused by overeating but is exacerbated by drinking and 500,000 children aged four to 14 are at risk. The condition can stop the liver from functioning properly which can lead to cardiovascular problems and diabetes. In some cases it can lead to cirrhosis of the liver.

Government figures show 30 per cent of children aged between two and 15 are now overweight or obese – a figure which is projected to double by 2050.

To try to counteract the rising levels of obesity among children, Change4Life is launching a summer holiday campaign called The Really Big Summer Adventure from the mid-July.

And World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)’s education team is taking part in a number of activity festivals in Tower Hamlets and Hackney – where we run our Great Grub Club for four- to seven-year-olds.

These include the Activity Festival in Haggerston Park, Hackney, on July 24; the Hackney One Carnival from Ridley Road market to Clissold Park on August 7; and Tower Hamlet fun days at Will Crooks Estate on August 9 and Cottage Street on August 16.

WCRF encourages children to develop healthy habits so they are more likely to make healthy lifestyle choices later in life which may decrease their cancer risk.

Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to this, as is being physically active and adopting a healthy diet.

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