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Children Offered Help To Tackle Obesity

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 Children Offered Help To Tackle Obesity

A very positive report by the BBC (20 01 09) in relation to children and their families in Wales being offered help and support in a bid to tackle the rising obesity problem.

Approximately, 2,000 (7-13) will be offered the advice and more specifically parents will also benefit from advice with regards to their shopping budgets.

The cost of the exercise will be in the region of £1.4m and will be bourne by the Welsh Assembly Government programme and is expected to last three years.

In as much as the programme is welcomed there are indeed some reservations voiced by the National Obesity Forum. Children as young as two years have identified as being obese. Thus all parents and children should be offered advice and support.

Alarmingly, according to the assembly government, it is estimated that one in five 13 year olds is deemed either fat or obese. Clearly a very serious health issue. Furthermore, it has also been argued that the said Welsh children have some of the highest body indexes in the world. Intervention is crucial from this point of view.

Mend as is is known (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition…Do It scheme) is heralded as the first of it’s kind with regards to children and it will be run on a national level.

Dr Tony Jewell, chief medical officer for Wales has expressed that being overweight can be both tough physically and emotionally for children. He adds, “Caring for an overweight or obese child can be difficult too, especially if they lack confidence or feel depressed because of their size.

“We have evidence that shows the programme raises individuals’ self esteem and supports them in making healthier choices.
It’s vital that we tackle the obesity issue. Welsh children’s rates of obesity are already too high and are increasing.

“Overweight or obese children are also more likely to be overweight or obese adults. More than half, 57%, of all adults in Wales are already overweight or obese.”

On an average, families that took part in the trial have lost 4.3cm which equates to 1.7in from the waist. Thus clearly there is a positive outcome.

Hitherto, the courses are available in targeted areas. Significantly, more information with regards to healthy living is also being made available for those families unable to take part.

Health professionals across the region will also take part in relation to awareness training and advice so as to be able to support families with overweight children.

As indicated earlier children as young as two have been reported as being obese. With that in mind, one also has to address the matter. According to the clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, David Haslam who argues whether the trial targets children young enough. He says, “It’s important to catch them early. The crucial time is the first five years. £1.4m is a drop in the ocean and is nowhere near enough money.”

Notwithstanding, Jonathan Morgan the conservative health spokesperson suggests, “While we welcome any investment in tackling this health time bomb we have to think seriously about how money is spent.

“Sending people on 10-week boot camps will not in itself tackle the long-term problems caused by obesity.

“We need a co-ordinated strategy tackling the way people see food, and one that also ensures young people see exercise as a normal part of their daily routine.”

Finally, the Liberal Democratic representative said while his party is in favour of any initiative which offers help and support to help overweight /obese children. The real question is why are there so many children with this problem in Wales.

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