Addressing childhood obesity

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
Published on January 7, 2013


I am very concerned about the global issue of childhood obesity. Are we doing enough in society and is our government doing anything to help with this global epidemic? So what are we going to do about this growing concern?

In 2010, a global study by the World Health Organization identified 42 million children under the age of five as obese. Obese children have an increased chance of staying that way into adulthood. That study, including 63 countries, also showed 60 per cent of men and 50 per cent of women were either overweight or obese. The WHO states people with extra weight take a huge toll on health care and risk factors include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea and other chronic illnesses.

We live in an environment that promotes obesity with countries filled with fast-food restaurants that promote saturated fat, cheap junk food, and electronic technologies that keep people sedentary. So what are we going to do about the children, the innocent children influenced by their parents, society, school and friends?

The obvious route is to increase their intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, decrease fat and sugar consumption and increase physical activity. We need to have societal involvement and political commitment and collaboration of private and public stakeholders. Improving dietary habits is an individual and societal problem. We need to help make healthier diet options affordable and accessible. The role of the school is essential to help promote healthy diets and physical activity. We need a tool provided at the national level in order to make sure that obesity is worked on. People must have knowledge, attitudes, beliefs and skills to help make informed decisions and practise healthy behaviours.

The role of the parent is a very important one. Not only must we provide healthy food and promote exercise, we also must be a role model ourselves. We must eat healthy, cook healthy and remain active to maintain a healthy weight. We must encourage activity at home; encourage walking to and from activities and decrease computers, TV and games usage.

Cassandra Costain,