Obesity is still a huge cause for concern and more alarmingly, childhood obesity needs to be tackled with some urgency. According to statistics from the NHS, one-fifth of primary school children aged 10-11 years are obese. Worryingly, 9.6% of children in reception in 2016-17 were obese. Obese children face the same health risks as their adult counter parts, including: increased risk of stroke, heart disease, breathing problems and diabetes. Furthermore, children who are obese are more likely to remain so well into their adult life. Unsurprisingly this is an issue that needs to be addressed. As a result, Public Health England have launched a new campaign to try and form a solution.
Children are Consuming Too Much Sugar
One of the main issues identified in studying childhood obesity is the amount of sugar children consume. Public Health England (PHE) discovered that primary school children consume at least three sugary snacks per day. This doesn’t seem much but when broken down, this small number of sugary snacks means children can easily consume three times more sugar than the recommended daily maximum.
How Will the Campaign Help?
Children from as young as 1.5 years up to the age of 18 often get extra amounts of sugar in their diet from soft drinks, cereals, cakes and biscuits. As a result, PHE have launched a campaign through Change4Life that encourages parents to opt for healthier snacks that are no more than 100 calories, limited to twice per day. This would completely exclude packets of crisps (190 calories) and chocolate bars (200 calories).
Ideal snacks would include the following:
- Fresh or tinned fruit salad
- Sugar-free jelly
- Plain rice cakes or crackers with low-fat cheese
- Chopped vegetables with low-fat hummus
- Small malt loaves
- A single crumpet or scotch pancake
The overall campaign will last 8 weeks but parents and children should be encouraged to continue these healthy choices long term. Change4Life will also offer money-off vouchers towards certain food items such as malt loaves, low-sugar yoghurts and soft drinks.
Changing Attitudes are Part of the Solution
Generally, obesity is a long-standing problem. It can’t be solved instantly and there is no quick fix. To truly tackle obesity, there needs to be sustained and effective action. The public can begin to make changes by simply becoming more aware. Children are particularly vulnerable to receiving vast amounts of information, therefore they need to be helped and educated to make healthy choices that will benefit them in life. Knowledge of healthy practices is the first step in tackling a big problem.