More than 1 in 25 children in England are severely obese by the time they leave primary school. The overall number of children entering primary school obese is 15,000 — and by the time they finish primary, there will be 22,000 of them.
Obesity is definitely a modern plague. For the first time in its history, mankind has (in the developed world, at least) an abundance of nutrients and foods available at its disposal. The problem, it seems, is that we’re largely incapable of choosing wisely. Right now, mankind is facing an obesity pandemic, with 2 billion individuals worldwide. Childhood obesity has also grown by a staggering amount: 1000% in the past 40 years. In Europe, Britain is the most obese country, whereas worldwide, the US is the undisputed “champion” of obesity rates, with 70.1% of its population being overweight, and 38.2% obese.
In England, it’s the first time this type of comprehensive analysis has been carried out on childhood obesity. The Local Government Association (LGA), which published the report based on Public Health England figures, said more government action was urgently needed. Izzi Seccombe, chairwoman of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said:
“These new figures on severely obese children, who are in the most critical overweight category, are a further worrying wake-up call for urgent joined-up action.” She added that unless the problem is tackled, “today’s obese children will become tomorrow’s obese adults” .
However, the government seems unimpressed by these figures. The UK leaders insist that their plan to tackle obesity is among the most comprehensive in the world, even though things seem to be getting worse.
Truth be told though, the UK government isn’t just idling. Just a month ago, it implemented a tax on sugary drinks, which was hailed by doctors and policymakers alike as a victory for health. Already, in many bars across the country, the diet version of soft drinks has become prevalent (and while this is still far from ideal, it’s a big step forward). But for all its merits, the sugary tax might not be enough — and, more importantly, the growth of obesity might be connected with other, deeper problems.
The widely controversial austerity measures implemented over the past decade have caused poverty in the UK to soar. NY Times’ Peter Goodman recently wrote, “After eight years of budget cutting, Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States, with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty” — and this is clearly visible in the obesity rates. Unfortunately, healthy food is often more expensive than the unhealthy, calorie-rich alternatives. As a result, Britain has developed its own fast-food culture, with pre-packaged and pre-cooked food often being the norm. These foods are generally cheaper, more filling, but also very unhealthy.
Obesity is linked to a swarm of health problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, gallstones, asthma, liver disease, kidney disease, and several types of cancer.