Teach children obesity not inevitable – medics

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh is calling for better education early in life (Gareth Fuller/PA) Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Children should be taught that obesity is not inevitable, medics have said as they called for better food education for youngsters.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh said that change is needed to tackle the damaging effects of poor diet and obesity.

The College said that obesity “is not inevitable” in a statement as it called for better education to tackle the issue early on.

Professor Derek Bell, president of the college, said: “Many of the health problems associated with obesity can be avoided altogether.

“Government must work closely with schools, food agencies and supermarkets to ensure that healthy choices are available from early age to adulthood.”

One initiative that could help tackle the growing obesity crisis is more investment in food education, the college said.

It said that such education could focus on healthy food choices and exercise and potentially avoid the complications associated with excess weight later in life.

College fellow Dr Mark Kroese added: “By intervening earlier, we can reduce occurrences of medical problems and give children in particular a better chance of maintaining a healthy weight, as they progress to adulthood.

“The College wants more government investment in schools to help children learn about healthy eating and lifestyle habits, and to enable them access to their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables.

“Initiatives such as the Daily Mile and school running and exercise clubs should also be encouraged, promoted and supported.”

The comments come as a survey by the World Obesity Federation issued a warning that weight discrimination is making it difficult for obese people to seek support.

A survey of 1,115 British adults found that 81% believe people with obesity are viewed negatively because of their weight.

Among those surveyed, 310 said they were obese themselves and many said they had experienced stigma in a number of settings including clothes shops, social situations, in healthcare settings and gyms.

Johanna Ralston, chief executive of the World Obesity Federation, said: “Society at large continues to treat people with obesity unfairly. Stigmatising obesity undermines people’s health and makes it harder to seek support.”

The Federation also called on social media companies to clamp down on weight abuse online after a snapshot poll found that many social media users were using discriminatory language on the channels.