Is YOUR child overweight?
There is, it appears, a reasonable chance of it.
You see, according to figures that have been released in recent days, almost one in four under-fives in Britain can be considered as such.
This is, for obvious reasons, quite a concern.
Research that is due to be presented at a congress in Prague has discovered that 23.1% of children in the UK, aged five or below, are either overweight or obese.
From the 28 European countries that provided data, just one – Ireland – fared worse.
These figures put the UK behind nations such as Georgia, Albania and Bulgaria.
In Kazakhstan, just 0.6% of small children are considered to be overweight or obese.
Looking around, these findings don’t come as a huge surprise. It seems quite clear – to us, at least – that children are getting heavier.
Perhaps it is diet, perhaps it is because lifestyles in general are becoming more and more sedentary, perhaps it is numerous factors in combination, but one thing is apparent . . .
This is a problem that has got to be tackled.
Now, before it is too late.
If children are overweight or obese at five, their future prospects are certain to be impaired.
In making this assertion, we’re not just talking about physical health.
Everyone knows the physical problems that being overweight can lead to, both in childhood and in later life . . .
Heart Disease. Diabetes. Cancer. It doesn’t get much more serious.
But don’t underestimate the mental stress that can also be suffered.
Children are sensitive, vulnerable, emotional and delicate. Being overweight or obese is just one more thing for them to be worried about.
It’s one more thing that might mark them out as being different. One more thing to make it difficult to fit in and lead to anxiety and isolation. One more thing for bullies to use against them.
Think YOUR child isn’t old enough to be concerned about such things? Think again . . .
You see, another study, this one also due to be presented in Prague in the coming days, has discovered that children as young as six are expressing dissatisfaction with their bodies.
Using data collected in Leeds, research has found that those classed as overweight or obese are more dissatisfied than those who are not, that girls are more concerned about their weight than boys and that, as a direct result, some children are compromising their diet in order to address such issues.
Given the impact that eating disorders can have, the fact that six-year-olds are struggling with their thinking, food and exercise like this is something that should concern us all.
It’s right and proper that, as parents, we take care of our children’s physical health. But at the same time, the emotional impact that such issues can have must not be overlooked.
To quote the study’s lead researcher, Prof Pinki Sahota, from Leeds Beckett University, ‘Obesity prevention programmes need to consider psychological wellbeing and ensure that it is not compromised. Further research should be conducted on how interventions can help improve psychological wellbeing in this age group’.
Here at CPUK, we couldn’t agree more.