Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Childhood Obesity - Are We As a Society to Blame?

Some people reading this may well remember when an evening after school, or a weekend afternoon, was spent going to the park to play and run around with nothing more than a bottle of water and a few jam butties for refreshment. Everybody enjoyed themselves and nobody complained.
This seems a far cry from the kids of today who only walk as far as the room where the computer is situated and refreshment comes in the form of crisps, chocolate bars, biscuits and a plentiful supply of carbonated drinks. Childhood obesity is on the rise and I cannot help thinking that we as a society have allowed it to happen, to such an extent that it has become a runaway train.
Research has shown that by far the greatest increases in childhood obesity have occurred in North America and Western Europe. In the UK alone about one in six children are obese, a staggering statistic. The advent of the fast food chains has accelerated this growth. The problem is that, what was once seen as a treat to go to one of these "restaurants", has now become the norm. Clever marketing reinforces the brand popularity resulting in more regular visits that eventually become habit-forming. All these places are just chasing the dollar, and we happily oblige.
There is also a link between obesity and low-income areas. The irony being that it is more economical to cook healthily than it is to buy take-a-ways on a regular basis, but we don't cook enough.
Celebrities, like Jamie Oliver, are going some way to promote the change in the thinking required to get back to basics and get our children eating healthy again. There is a vending company in Liverpool that operate a pioneering scheme whereby they provide vending machines to schools vending fresh fruit daily. Schools are the places where kids can start eating healthily again, mainly because schools can enforce restrictions limiting choice.
Of course, there are medical conditions, like the Prader-Willi syndrome, which cause problems controlling hunger and therefore result in obesity, but on the whole we could make a vast difference if we all made an effort to get back to how it used to be.
Unless we stop allowing ourselves to be taken in by clever marketeers or until multi-nationals stop placing pounds shillings and pence above the well-being of our children, this train is gonna keep on runnin'.!
- Des B Flanagan

No comments:

Post a Comment