The number of overweight or obese children under five has risen to 41 million, from 31 million in 1990, according to figures released by a World Health Organisation commission.
The statistics show that 6.1% of under-fives were overweight or obese in 2014, compared with 4.8% in 1990.
The number of overweight children in lower middle-income countries more than doubled over the same period, from 7.5 million to 15.5 million.
Peter Gluckman, a co-chair of the commission, said childhood obesity had become “an exploding nightmare” in the developing world. He added: “It’s not the kids’ fault. You can’t blame a two-year-old child for being fat and lazy and eating too much.” We’d have to agree. The issue of childhood obesity and increasingly more sedentary lifestyles is something we have to take charge of.
The report also pointed out that where a pregnant mother is obese or has diabetes, the child is predisposed “to increased fat deposits associated with metabolic disease and obesity”. So it’s not just about educating children on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle… it starts with the parents, right from pregnancy.
The commission backed the idea of a sugary drinks tax, which has already been implemented in Mexico and proposed by a number of experts elsewhere. But it said there was no single measure that could stop the rapidly growing epidemic. It also proposed a restriction on the marketing of junk foods, along with easy to digest nutrient labels that would be simple for all to understand. Experts have also called for sugary drinks and unhealthy foods to be banned from schools and physical activity promoted much more heavily.
Here at Focus Training, we believe that the emphasis shouldn’t be about taking things away from our children. It’s about putting the good stuff right in front of them! Getting young people excited about fitness isn’t always easy. We reported last year that a whopping 77% of kids weren’t getting anywhere near enough exercise. The increase in computer games and smartphones can mean that exercise takes a back seat to modern technology. Though by getting kids excited about fitness, we give them the power to make their own choices, rather than simply taking away all of the temptations and hoping they won’t find them. (Spoiler: They will!).
As with anything we teach our children to do, the more fun and engaging we make it, the more likely they’ll be to continue into adult life. The longer we leave it, the greater impact this could have on their long term health.