Did you know that the number of people in the UK who are obese has trebled in the past 25 years1? In fact 64% of adults in the UK are classed as being overweight or obese and are at increased risk of suffering from a heart attack, stroke or diabetes2. Obesity isn’t only a common health risk amongst adults; it affects a high number of children too…
With 1 in 3 children in the UK being overweight and with 1 in 5 being classed as obese1 it is easy to see why child obesity is regarded by the World Health Organisation (WHO)3 as “one of the most serious global challenges for the 21st century.”
What are the causes of obesity in children and adults?
The NHS4 explains that obesity is a combination of a number of factors that come together to create what they refer to as the ‘perfect storm’, these factors can include the following:
- Easy access to cheap calorie ridden food and drinks that usually have no nutritional value i.e. fizzy drinks.
- An increased sedentary family lifestyle, which means they are spending the majority of their day partaking in an activity that is seated i.e. watching TV.
- In today’s culture it has become more acceptable to be ‘overweight’.
- Living in a society with increasingly obesogenic environments (an environment that tends to encourage obesity) i.e. TV adverts for fast food.
Treating and preventing obesity
According to the NHS5 there isn’t a quick fix for solving the worldwide issue of obesity in children and adults. Programmes that encourage weight loss are helpful but often take time and require commitment. Making simple lifestyle changes, monitoring weight regularly and setting realistic goals which involve the whole family can help you and your family to lose weight and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Losing what can be seen as a small amount of weight i.e. 3% of your original weight and being able to maintain it can help to reduce your risk of obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.
Read our top five tips to help combat obesity below for simple lifestyle changes that could help you and your family maintain a healthier weight and lifestyle…
1. Eat healthy meals together as a family6.
A study in 2014 found that children who ate regular family meals were more likely to have a lower rate and ate more nutritiously. This is a mantra that is often advised by Doctors and nutritionists when discussing with families how they can maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight.
2. Eat healthier as a family7.
Encourage your family to make healthier food choices by reducing the consumption of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt and increase your family’s consumption of fruit and vegetables. Try making a healthier version of your favourite dish from your local take away or exchanging sweets for fruit.
3. Use the eatwell plate to help your family maintain a balanced diet8.
Research has recently shown that a balanced diet can be the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The eatwell plate can help you and your family to visualise the different types of food and portions that contribute to a balanced diet.
Source: Public Health England
4. Reduce your family’s screen times9.
Limit the length of time each day the whole family is spending sedentary by reducing screen times (TV, Internet, video games). The American Heart Association recommends limiting screen times to no more than two hours a day.
5. Be more active as a family10.
As part of NICE’s guidelines to preventing excess weight among children and adults they recommend encouraging physical activity habits that increase energy expenditure. Try replacing the usual school run in the car with walking or cycling. Bad habits such as prolonged screen times could be exchanged by taking part in a hobby for the whole family that requires physical activity such as a running, gardening or swimming.
Why not try setting yourselves a challenge as by taking part in a family friendly running event such as a fun run or if you’re personally feeling adventurous a half marathon? Visit our Great British Runs page to find out more about the North Wales Half Marathon.