One in three British children are either overweight or obese and experts predict that by 2050 obesity will cost the NHS upwards of £50 billion. The Tonight programme asks if enough is being done to combat the child obesity epidemic?
Childhood obesity has become of the most serious public health issues we face today. Already doctors are seeing a rise in obesity related conditions like type 2 diabetes in adolescents and experts predict that this could be the first generation to live shorter lives than their parents.
Since April this year the responsibility for spending on public health issues like childhood obesity moved to local authorities. It’s up to each council to assess local priorities and spend accordingly, so whether help is available or not depends to a large extent upon where you live.
In North Yorkshire, the Rotherham Institute of Obesity provides a one stop shop for those motivated to lose weight. Experts find out what a child’s pattern of eating is and how much exercise they do, then help them to make simple changes with positive results.
This summer 150 children spent their school holidays at MoreLife weight management camp. As well as regular exercise and healthy food the kids take lifestyle classes where they learn skills that will help them in the outside world – such as how to choose wisely from fast food menus.
Sixteen year old Abigail says she’s always been big. She’s tried numerous diets but none have enabled her to keep the weight off. Now her health is beginning to deteriorate. After her last set of test results her doctor advised that her only option is to have a gastric band - if she doesn’t she’ll die. Abigail is nervous about the procedure but excited that after a lifetime of being overweight there’s an opportunity to turn her life around.
Battling weight issues isn’t easy especially in our modern environment. The Government’s Foresight report described obesity as a normal reaction to an abnormal environment and many experts agree that in order to combat the problem we’re going to have to change the environment in which we live.