Fighting Child Obesity in Wales
The basic cause of child obesity in Wales is eating too much and having very little physical activity. When a child consumes large quantities of food that are particularly high in sugars and fats and does not burn it off through exercise and physical activity, this surplus energy is stored in the body as fat.
Childhood obesity can lead to serious negative health consequences such as:
- High blood pressure and high cholesterol which are prone to lead to cardiovascular diseases.
- Breathing problems such as sleep apnea and asthma.
- An increase in insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, and type 2 diabetes.
- Fatty liver disease and gastroesophageal reflux.
- Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.
- Poor self-esteem and discrimination which can lead to psychological and social problems.
Child obesity in Wales is contributing to an increase in adult obesity. Adult obesity is associated with the development of serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and some form of cancers.
Amongst Welsh children by the age of 11, 40% of children are either overweight or obese. The effect of child obesity in Wales on the economy has led to an estimate of £1.4m to £1.65m being spent every week on treating diseases arising as a result of obesity.
Children living in deprivation are more likely to be obese. Between 4-5 years of age, 5.5% of children who are least deprived are obese as compared to 12.5% of children who are living in the most deprived areas.
Between 10-15 years of age, 11.7% of the children who are least deprived are obese as compared to 26.0% of children in the most deprived areas.
Today’s children are being bombarded by junk food and beverage marketing every day of the week, at all hours. These marketing strategies have found their way to the targeted markets through video games, websites, apps and social media platforms.
Children are targeted everywhere, on the streets billboards, in recreational centers, at home, at school, in restaurants and especially through popular celebrity endorsements. It’s everywhere and it’s on all the time. Child obesity in Wales is highly impacted by the food and beverage industry spending so much money targeting kids that parents have a difficult time at home influencing their children’s healthy eating habits.
The Welsh can protect their children by:
- Reducing children’s screen time.
- Preparing homemade meals often together with the children.
- Eating balanced diets and consuming fewer sugary drinks and processed foods.
- Promoting and encouraging policies that are geared towards creating healthier environments for children and restricting food and beverage marketing activities geared towards children.
One great initiative that is underway in Swansea is the Trefory’s Tiny Tots Day Nursery whose main mission is to provide a high level of childcare and education. One of the ways in which they are promoting positive childcare is by providing nutritional healthy meals for all the children. See their highly rated menu plan here.
It is only by taking conscious and deliberate efforts towards promoting a healthy lifestyle for our children shall we tackle child obesity in Wales effectively.
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