Teenagers blame parents for Britain’s childhood obesity crisis
We hear a lot in the news about children and the "obesity epidemic" lately. You may be wondering what it's all about. We have general notions about obesity and overweight being unhealthy, but what exactly are the concerns?
Being obese increases a child's risk for some serious childhood medical problems. These include pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, hyperlipidemia (too much fat in the blood, which can clog the arteries), sleep apnea, bone conditions, gastro-intestinal diseases, and psychological problems . These obesity-associated health problems tend to continue into adulthood . In addition to the risks to kids in childhood, research over the last 40 years tells us that overweight kids are at greater risk of becoming obese adults , with all the health problems associated with obesity lasting through the lifespan.
The good news is that parents have influence over their child's lifestyle and weight. Research has given us lots of information about how parents can help their child stay at or get to a healthy weight.
Here’s some general advice on what parents can do:
Childhood obesity is becoming a serious problem in many countries
Several internal and external factors contribute to childhood obesity; however, many people believe that parents are primarily to blame for obese children and adolescents....
More than half of 12 to 16 year-olds surveyed think parents are most responsible for Britain’s childhood obesity crisis, according to poll by the British Heart Foundation.
Just over a quarter (26%) think children themselves are most responsible, while just four per cent think the Government is responsible, and less than one per cent think teachers are.
A total of 31 per cent of boys and 29% of girls in England are overweight or obese. This increases their chance of growing up overweight or obese and puts their heart health in jeopardy.
The BHF poll also revealed a worrying lack of cooking skills among teenagers with more than one in 10 (13%) unable to complete basic tasks, such as scrambling eggs, make a fruit scone, spaghetti bolognaise, homemade pizza or preparing a fruit salad by themselves.
Guidance from the British Nutrition Foundation and the National Curriculum for England suggest that all 13 year-olds should be able to do these.
Even more worrying is the fact that one in 10% said they couldn't peel and chop an onion, peel a potato or peel and grate a carrot by themselves. The same guidance recommend that all nine year-olds should be able to carry out these tasks.
While children can learn these skills at home, the findings reinforce the need for basic cooking lessons as part of the national curriculum. Mandatory lessons for pupils up to Year 9 will be introduced from next year.
Victoria Taylor, Senior Heart Health Dietitian at the BHF, said: "Parents have a huge influence on their children's lives. But there’s a crucial role for teachers too. Reinforcing the value of healthy eating by adopting measures in the School Food Plan and helping pupils understand what’s in their food and how it can affect them is vital if we want to turn the tide on our current childhood obesity epidemic."