Toddlers Tackling Obesity Through NHS 'Fat Camps'

Children as young as two are being sent to NHS 'fat camps' in a bid to tackle the rising obesity crisis, a health authority has revealed.

Figures released by the NHS show that over 700 children between the ages of 2 and 18 have been referred to the paediatric weight management programme run in Lothian in the past three years.

Over the course of these three years, the number of children aged two to 11 put on the scheme has almost tripled from 68 to 188, and continues to grow.

Tackling The Fat

The programme is designed to educate children (and their parents) on healthy diet choices, exercise and the risks of obesity at a young age. Fitness professionals encourage physical activity through games and hope to ensure commitment from both the little people and their parents by setting longer-term health goals.

Between 2011 and 2012 the NHS spent £92,000 referring 168 children up to the age of 17 to its paediatric weight management service. By 2014, this figure had soared to 348 children, with a whopping £140,000 being spent on doing so.

The Dangers

As sedentary lifestyles and reliance on convenience foods continue to contribute to the nation’s obesity problem, babies are getting larger, due to the increase in overweight mothers having children. Women who are overweight produce babies with more fat on them, leading to weight struggles from a very early age.

If young children aren’t encouraged to be active, the sedentary lifestyle cycle begins, and overweight children are significantly more likely to be overweight as an adult.

Studies report that obesity amongst children aged 6 to 11 has more than doubled in the past 20 years, and today, 17 % of kids are considered overweight, and it’s been said that by 2030, 60% of the UK will be overweight too.

Childhood obesity has both short and long-term effects on their health. Immediate issues include increased risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure and pre-diabetes.

Long-term, children who are obese are likely to be obese as adults and are therefore at greater risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and osteoarthritis.

The Solution

Whilst it seems a simple one, it’s surprising just how few parents understand the basics of healthy eating and adequate exercise for their little ones.

We have an abundance of food, too little activity thanks to the increase in computer gaming and reliance on cars and little knowledge of how to make sensible lifestyle choices for our growing children.

So it’s often up to us fitness professionals to educate the nation on portion control, finding a fun exercise programme and ditching the convenience foods in place of healthy alternatives.

Our Weight Management Certification has equipped hundreds of fitness professionals with the tools required to plan and monitor nutrition programmes, to help lead the fight against obesity. Covering the nutritional basis of healthy eating, the physiology and psychology of dieting and educating individuals on the analysis of food labels, we provide the professional qualifications needed to advise parents who are ready to manage their children's weight for longer and healthier life. Our Kids Fitness Instructor course also combines a deeper understanding of the science behind exercise, with plenty of creative strategies for getting children excited about physical activity. Take a look at our range of Personal Trainer Courses.

We’re also supporting this year’s National Fitness Day, which will be focussing on getting children more active, for a healthier future. We hope you’ll join us in supporting the fitness-fest as the nation comes together to get the little people moving!