These days, the news is rife with reports concerning childhood obesity, and how the numbers continue to rise at an alarming rate. Britain is now the fattest country in Europe, and about a third of our children are too heavy for their height.
Doctors are already warning that operations such as stomach stapling could soon become commonplace among children, as the problem just continues to worsen. So why is it happening, and what can be done about it?
Why are Children Getting so Overweight?
There are a handful of reasons as to exactly what is causing the excessive weight gain among the nation’s young, but ultimately, it all boils down to the age old combination of poor diet and lack of exercise.
The kids of today are encouraged to vegetate in front of the television whilst scoffing down unhealthy snacks like crisps and cake, when what they should be doing is going on bike rides and snacking on fresh fruit. A lot of children would be more at ease shooting video game villains in the head, instead of shooting footballs into the goal.
Why aren’t Children Getting Enough Exercise?
A combination of reasons culminates in a lack of exercise. Experts in child health recommend at least an hour of moderate physical exercise each and every day to stay healthy, but this is not being met by the majority. Playing computer games and watching cartoons provide a quicker enjoyment fix than exercise, so it’s easier to sit and watch than go outside.
Although it can seem easy and harmless to let your kids slob in front of the TV, you should encourage outdoor play as much as possible. Also, we’re a nation of car lovers; this is a habit we need to break. More than 5% of families own three or more vehicles, which is entirely unnecessary and unhealthy. Walk your children to school instead of driving – you’ll benefit as well as them!
Why is Exercise so Important?
Even if your child is of a healthy weight, a lack of exercise can cause all manner of problems. Aside from the obvious advantage of getting fit and burning off excess energy (good for getting your kids to sleep easily!), exercise keeps you in good health – alarmingly, the British Heart Foundation has stated that lack of exercise is the single biggest contributor to heart disease, even worse than smoking or eating too much!
Obesity can lead to a number of problems itself: bad joints, lack of energy, depression, diabetes – the list goes on. Perhaps the worst thing is that obese children tend to become obese adults, and the older you are, the harder it will be to shift that weight. Give your child an advantage and get him or her fit before it’s too late.
What can be Done?
To combat the problem, the steps to solution are simple. Education is paramount – make sure you tell your kids what is best for them, and follow by example. Schools can help too: Southlands High School, whose dining room was produced by Innova Solutions, has been educating their pupils successfully in their food technology lessons. This is the first and most important step.
You have to improve their diets yourself. Buy healthier food; replace crisps and chocolates with fresh fruit; stock the cupboards with goodness. Look into what they’re eating in school as well.
Finally, exercise. Exercise is key – make sure your children are playing out more! Cycling, football, joining a karate club, it’s all good as long as they’re being active. They can still watch TV and play games, but in smaller amounts and as a treat.
Start getting your kids healthier now. You won’t regret it, and neither will they.