The BBC reported today that Parents ‘do not recognise obesity in their children’. This is a surprisingly common problem, and part of the reason why schools started sending letters to the parents of overweight children in 2005 as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.
There is still an idea that anyone under the age of 16 can carry “puppy fat” an be healthy, and that as soon as a child reaches adulthood the weight will all “fall off”. However, this just does not happen. In the old days it may have been the case, when children would go out to work and burn the fat off and eat a lean diet. Nowadays food is in plentiful supply and exercise a pastime for most, and requirement for few.
On top of all that, many parents just do not think that their children are overweight, even if the BMI (body mass index) says that they are beyond overweight, and in fact obese (i.e. a BMI over 30).
Parents Know That Obesity Is Bad
It seems that most parents understand that obesity is not healthy, however, when looking at their own children they see happy, smart and fit children. Parents now tend to compare their children with the othe children at school, and as so many are overweight, they just think of their kids as being normal.
About 20 years ago overweight children were the minority in school, and any child that put on weight would very quickly be singled out. Throughout most of the 1970’s and 1980’s just about everyone was lean and fit, with almost all children of a healthy weight. It was more common for a child to be verging on being underweight than overweight.
Now the opposite is the case. Children are obese, and levels of obesity is rising. Last week we learnt that British women were the most obese in Europe, we also reported that mothers from an early age have a direct impact on the weight of their daughters.
How To Beat Obesity
The only way to beat obesity is for there to be a major reversal in the way food is produced and marketed in the UK. Food has somehow spread into all part of life.
When I was at school in the 1980’s the only food I ever saw was the food placed in front of me by my mother at breakfast and dinner, and the food served to me at lunch time in school. There was never any additional food available, no snacks in the house, no tuck shop or vending machines in the school. Having a biscuit from my grandmothers tin was a rare treat.
Somehow we need to get back to a society like this. It is wrong to think that by getting the country active we will fight obesity. Children put on weight and then become less active as a result. Parents and children are today under too much pressure from work, school tests and school homework to have the time to spend 2-3 hours every day in active play.
National Child Measurement Programme
Many parents are against the National Child Measurement Programme, however, the fact is that in most cases it is highlight to parents that their children have gained so much weight that they are no longer healthy. Only by highlighting to parents that there really is a problem can the problem be tackled.
While parents live in denial, ignorance or just do not care, children will continue to put on weight and start on the road to a life of obesity, diabetes and an assortment of other weight related illnesses.