Welcome to our blog! If you’re like me this blog will make your heart melt, blood boil and trigger the expression of that hidden gene which advocates for change. You don’t have to adore children, be a health advocate or a global-peace maker to understand that childhood obesity is becoming one of the largest trends in the twenty-first century.
Some fat facts for your Friday:
- 6 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese
- 42 million children were classified as being overweight in 2013
- 31 million of these children lived in developing countries
Being overweight or obese at any age predisposes individuals to developing non-communicable diseases (NCDs). NCDs refer to diseases that cannot be transmitted from one individual to the next, they are generally preventable, onset in later adult life and are greatly influenced by lifestyle factors. Unfortunately, NCDs are chronic diseases and exercise a huge burden and disability on the individual. They are associated with premature death and disability. NCDs primarily include diabetes, cardiovascular disease (coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke), cancer (endometrial, breast, colorectal) and musculoskeletal diseases (osteoarthritis).
Some may think that because these diseases are “adult-onset” then why does childhood obesity matter? Being overweight or obese as a child fast-tracks onset and heightens the risk of developing a NCD.
Who/what can we blame?
Like most things there are two sides to every story. In the last two hundred years there have been some of the greatest developments for bettering human life. But on the other hand there has been the concurrent illumination of an extensive array of adverse side-effects which we often lend a blind eye to.
Below I have created a list that outlines the benefits and side-effects of changed aspects of society:
||Increased income providing greater access to food
||Over exposure to high-fat, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods
||Within the comfort of your own home (TV, play-station, Facebook)
||Easy, convenient, fast travel
||Steady, well-paid, 9-5 job
||Little playing space
||Movement away from subsistence living which involves vigorous manual labour and involvement in food preparation.
|Food processing, distribution, marketing
||Feed more people
||“Hidden calories”, preservatives, no longer involved in food preparation.
Together societies behaviours and policies have shaped the outcome of our energy balance. For adults it is easier to manage and manipulate these changes to suit our own individual needs however for children it is more difficult. More often than not children cannot choose the environment they live in or the food they eat and have a limited ability to comprehend the outcomes of their behaviours. Therefore, it is our responsibility as the adults of this world to ensure that our children have the best start to their lives and minimise their potential risk of developing NCDs.