Government research has recently found that the number of severely obese children leaving primary school has hit a record high. One in 25 pupils aged 9, 10, 11 are in the most obese category, up from one in 32 over a decade ago, according to research by the public health department.
The research also revealed that students from the most deprived backgrounds are more likely to be overweight or obese and that health inequality is a real growing issue.
Researchers and academics have stated that the rise in childhood obesity is due to the amount of takeaway outlets. Dr Alison Tedstone, the chief nutritionist with the public health department said “walk down any high street and you are constantly prompted to buy and eat more and that will be affecting our children – the amount they eat and their body weight”.
The government, Public Health England, and the food industry are putting measures in place to help reduce childhood obesity. Since April, soft drink manufacturers have been charged a tax on their highest calorie products. The government has also unveiled phase two of its childhood obesity strategy which proposes plans including mandatory labelling of menus in restaurants and restricting TV adverts of sugary food and drinks.
Parents however are stating that more could be done in the fight to prevent childhood obesity. Mother of four Claudine Dutton said “I don’t think the government are dealing with the right area. I think they should make healthier food cheaper. People say healthy food is cheap, but it’s not! I is much easier to buy a multi-pack of chocolate biscuits than fruit”. The average packet of bourbon biscuits costs £0.36p whilst an average bunch of bananas costs £0.93p nearly triple the amount it costs to purchase a packet of biscuits.
The real question however is could more be done in schools to help prevent childhood obesity? Schools are making moves in the right direction, not allowing sugary drinks to be sold and promoting healthy eating. Some schools have been enforcing healthy eating too much, said one parent from North Wales, “my son spoke to me as if fizzy drinks were akin to crystal meth, sweets rot your teeth, and eating fat is the worst thing ever!” It seems as though there is a fine line that needs to be drawn. There needs to be a balance between healthy eating promotion and not pushing children to have an eating deficiency.
Let us know if you have any ideas on how to help reduce childhood obesity in primary schools. How do you promote healthy eating in your home? Do you allow for a well-earned treat?