Child Obesity and Health
Stop demonizing ‘couch potato’ kids: Children are getting slimmer and healthier
English children are getting slimmer and healthier — but the hype about childhood obesity and the moralistic tirades on our children’s unhealthy lifestyles continue regardless.
An analysis of the latest Health Survey for England (HSE) data, published today by the Social Issues Research Centre, shows that since 2004:
- Children are become slimmer
- Levels of childhood obesity have fallen
- Far fewer children are smoking
- Far fewer children are drinking alcohol
- More children are exercising
- More children are eating fruit and veg
The HSE statistics unequivocally show a decline in both the average Body Mass Index and the incidence of obesity in English children – along with clear evidence that children are adopting healthier lifestyles.
These figures were published by the HSE in December 2011 — and yet have been largely ignored, as leading figures in what might be called the ‘obesity industry’ (including many organisations funded by the pharmaceutical and slimming industries) continue to rant about our ‘childhood obesity epidemic’.
The oft-repeated ‘fact’ that this country has the highest levels of childhood overweight and obesity in Europe is also misleading. The apparently higher rates are due to the fact that we measure overweight and obesity in children differently from most other nations. If we adopted international standards, the number of overweight and obese children in this country would be around half that currently claimed.
A recent report from the parliamentary group on Body Image has drawn attention to the highly damaging impacts of an over-emphasis on the weight and physical shape of children. Perhaps it is now time to heed their warnings and give our children, and their parents, some credit for their increasingly healthy lifestyles — rather than berating them and using outdated measures that, like a fairground distorting mirror, make them look fatter than they really are.
In this ‘National Childhood Obesity Week’, the SIRC report, Children, obesity and heath: Recent trends, holds up a true mirror, accurately reflecting the trend towards slimmer, healthier children.
Click here to read or download the report.