Health & Wellbeing

Weightier issues

Man eating hamburger

Wedged in between all the politics this week, the issue of obesity found itself a spot. Even a royal birth and a new government can’t quite shift the obesity crisis from the agenda. It’s an issue that’s here to stay…

Researchers from the World Health Organisation announced early in the week that Europe is on course for an obesity crisis on an unprecedented scale, with approximately three quarters of men and over 60 per cent of women in the UK expected to be obese by 2030. If that sounds bad, spare a thought for the Irish Republic where being overweight is expected to be universal in the coming years.

Other countries with projected steep rises in obesity included Greece, Spain, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic. (What might happen in the US in the next fifteen years doesn’t really bear thinking about !).

As the week rolled on, we’ve been hit by even worse figures. In a study presented at the European Congress of Obesity in Prague, the UK was named as having the second highest proportion of overweight children out of the 28 countries that were able to provide data.

What’s been most disturbing about these findings is the information buried below the main headline. It’s been found that children as young as six are becoming dissatisfied with their bodies and, as a result, are tampering with their own diets which, experts are saying, could lead to an increased BMI. These children are at a stage in their development when a good, healthy and nutritious diet is paramount. To mess with that could have an adverse effect.

Children need educating regarding what makes a healthy body and they need help and support to achieve it. We need to properly take on board the statistics that are now announced with such frequency they have become white noise. It’s time to re-engage.

A new government, one that is genuinely interested in the health of the nation and the future of our children, needs to fix its gaze on education and put physical literacy on top of the agenda until this crisis is averted.