Childhood Obesity: A Serious Problem in Our Society

Child eating breakfast - David Amsler (Flickr)
Child eating breakfast - David Amsler (Flickr)

Nowadays the family routine is increasingly intense and busy, like: wake up in the morning, drop the kids at school, go to work, finish work, pick up the kids, help with homework, make the dinner, organize the house, and more and more things, this is just what happening everyday in a lot of houses. And yes, this is the routine of modern times. So, most of the time, in order to have a break, or to save some time, order a fast food, or just heat up the frozen pizza, is something that can makes the life I little bit easier and less stressful, so the preparation of homemade, nutritious foods is frequently being replaced with convenient foods that are high in fat, calories and sugar. However, it is important to be careful about the consequences of this, mostly with the kids.

Child eating breakfast - David Amsler (Flickr)
Child eating breakfast – David Amsler (Flickr)

According to the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing led by Trinity College, Dublin, four out of five people over 50s in Ireland are overweight or obese  the numbers are increasing every year. The Irish Heart Foundation said that obesity is the most common nutritional disorder in the world. The foundation also showed that obesity contributes to high blood pressure, abnormal blood fat levels, increased blood-clotting tendency and raised blood insulin levels and type two diabetes mellitus. Though, it becomes even more serious when the obesity starts affecting children. According to The Irish Heart Foundation in total, 22% of 5-12 years old are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has become an alarming national health concern in recent years.

The level of overweight among Irish children is something that is worrying some specialists. It was presented by the website Safe Food, that 1 in 4 children is overweight or obese. As it was also present, 4 out 5 children in Ireland do not meet Government Physical Activity guidelines, which would be recommended at least 60 minutes per day. However, the average time spent watching TV is around 2 hours per day. The research mentioned that many children do not met the dietary recommendations for fruit and vegetables, and that 1/5 of the energy intake from a child’s diet comes from sugary drinks, biscuits, confectionery, chocolate and cake.

According to The Growing Up In Ireland a study showed the obesity is now affecting children under three and four years old. In Ireland, the Children’s Hospital at Temple Street, in Dublin, has a childhood obesity treatment programme. In an interview for the Irish Independent, Grace O’Malley, senior physiotherapist at the hospital, said that the health implications for children in the short term include hip, knee and back pain, breathlessness, higher risk of asthma, bullying and stigmatisation, as well as high cholesterol and high blood pressure. She also said that the long-term effects include poorer educational achievement, risk of heart disease and certain cancers.

Kids playing football - DaMongMan (Flickr)
Kids playing football – DaMongMan (Flickr)

As the website Safe Food says,  it is important to introduce in the children’s routine, healthy habits. However, the main point about this new routine, it is that it must be built and followed by the whole family, and it cannot be done at once, it is a process built up everyday, together. The family support it is the main point to achieve the results. In order to get the children involved and active, the time spent with video games, tablets and TV can be replaced with active games. Some small changes in order to get balance diet can make the difference. As Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization showed, parents must be the one, who encouraged the children to strive to obtain better nutritional balance rather than counting calories as an effective approach to weight loss, and also to achieve healthy balanced family diets. Make the children feeling uncomfortable and under pressure It will not be healthy, effective, and useful to the process.

So, could be seen that childhood obesity has become an alarming national health concern in recent years. However, just balanced nutrition, promotion of healthier eating habits and physical activities are the main combination to tackling the problem of overweight and obesity.

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