A recent study released by University College London analysed almost 56,000 people and their weights throughout life, looking at the average age at which men and women started to become obese.
The results are not good for our children.
They showed that nowadays we’re getting obese at a much younger age, and that’s affecting our children. If you were born after 1980, you’re three times more likely to be overweight or obese compared with an older generation.
According to figures from Kings College London, in 1994 for example, the average percentage of children aged 2 to 5 who were classified as overweight was 20%. In 2013, this was almost 25%. The same is true for 6 to 10 year olds. In 1994, approximately 23% were overweight; in 2013 the numbers had risen dramatically to 30%.
Nowadays, one in every ten children who start at Reception are obese, according to the latest figures. By the time children leave primary school, the situation is even worse, currently standing at one in every five.
When we consider overweight children too, not just obese kids, this number drops to one in every three. That’s a third of children leaving primary school classified as overweight or obese.
The Consequences of Childhood Obesity
Obesity in childhood can cause all kinds of problems, both now and in later life. It often contributes to obesity in adulthood.
Obesity leads to an increased risk of heart disease and a greater chance of developing diabetes. Overweight children are far more likely to have high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure too, both of which are high risk factors for strokes and heart attacks.
Non-medically related, obese children are far more likely to suffer bullying at school, and have a higher chance of developing depression and experiencing anxiety attacks or low self-esteem. Obese children also struggle more along the path of life in general, when compared with their healthier counterparts.
And there is also the cost on the NHS and local councils. It’s estimated that obesity costs us as a country over £5 billion every year, an enormous problem which can only get worse.
What Can You Do?
The key is to target children from a young age, promoting a healthy lifestyle, encouraging exercise and educating kids wherever possible.
Official recommendations call for an hour of exercise for children every day. This doesn’t have to be exercise like we think about it; it can be any kind of physical activity, just not sitting in front of the TV or playing computer games.
Try playing in the park, going swimming, or joining a sports club. At Hale Country Club, we have a number of activities and classes specifically for children, where they can have fun but also get the exercise they need.
Not only will this help combat the chances of cardiovascular disease and regulate glucose levels, it will also help children get a quality night’s sleep, which can be just as important for health overall.
Don’t forget the importance of diet in children either. Avoid those fizzy drinks, and promote water wherever possible. Stick to healthy, well balanced meals, encourage healthy snacking, and only allow treats as a treat!
If you want to find out more about helping your children get active, just speak to a member of staff today.