Childhood Obesity is staring us in the face and yet most of us, parents, grandparents, teachers and health professionals alike, find the issue to be a hard nettle to grasp. It is a serious health problem and is now the most common childhood disorder in Europe. We know that overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults and that it increases the risk of many diseases including heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
The figures are startling: One in five of our children are overweight or obese in Ireland today. However three out of five Irish adults are overweight or obese in other words it has become the norm, more people in Ireland have a weight problem than dont. But how is this impacting our ability to see our childrens weight problem. If most adults are themselves overweight our perception of what is a healthy weight, especially when it comes to our own childrens bodies may be skewed.
There is a lot of interesting research ongoing in this area in particular the growing up in Ireland study under Trinity College Dublin. Recent Irish work has shown that when attending with their children for routine GP visits most parents underestimated or failed to recognise at all their childs overweight.
More importantly it showed that many people wrongly fear, (GPs included), a negative reaction by their child or worry that raising the issue of weight may contribute to body image concerns especially amongst teens. In fact parents and children were shown to be open to and happy to have the subject raised and weight measured. Doctors and parents alike should be striding to check childrens weight at least once a year to prevent us ignoring an issue that means a generation are unnecessarily facing major health problems due to overweight / obesity.
If you are not sure if you or your child is overweight ask to be weighed. Your local GP or health nurse will be delighted to do this. Get active, exercise and eat as a family, cooking from fresh ingredients whenever possible. Children need at least 60 minutes exercise every day this can be broken down into smaller parcels. There is lots of great information and tips to getting and staying healthy at www.littlesteps.eu