Although it’s not exactly quite the end of the school year, with one term still to go, the honest truth on the childhood obesity matter is that we simply daren’t wait any longer to issue our own warnings on the issue.
The plain and simple fact is that nine months since our last blog ‘Childhood obesity: who’s to blame’, sadly very little progress has been made in combatting the growing issue, not just in the UK but globally. Put it another way, “we must try harder”.
In February 2014 the World Health Organisation issued a stark warning that obesity was now becoming accepted rather than challenged. Suzzanah Jagreb, the WHO’s European Regional said “our perception of what is normal has shifted; being overweight is now more common than unusual. We must not let another generation grow up with obesity as the new norm.”
And as if the WHO warnings weren’t enough, recently Lord Coe declared that today’s children are the “least active generation in history” and could be the first to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents.
Here at Eureka! health and well-being has been an ever present part of our numerous educational messages and in 2006 Lord Coe actually came to help us launch Mission: Active Future, our outreach education programme aimed at inspiring children to become more active by building physical activity into their daily lives.
Last year also saw the launch of our new £2.9m All About Me gallery which is specifically designed to help children and families explore together issues such as exercise, nutritional choices and the impact that poor diets and a sedentary lifestyle can have on the body.
The blame game for obesity is a tricky one as there are so many contributing factors. When Eureka! opened in 1992 children were far more active and simply didn’t have access to smart phones, tablets and PC games that seem to keep many of them indoors.
Sadly today too many children are exposed to diets high in salts, fats and sugars which, when coupled with a low energy lifestyle, leads to the inevitable: obesity.
Leading child psychologist Dr Arig Sigman, writing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, says that a child born today will have spent a full year glued to screens by the time they are seven, typically spending up to six hours a day in front of as many as five different screens.
So, it doesn’t take an expert to work out how to change our childhood obesity mid term report from ‘must try harder’ to ‘coming along nicely’.
It’s simple. Encourage your children to swap screen time for outdoor play time and help them to become an active participant in the preparation of healthy food in the home. And why not engage the whole family in working towards a healthier lifestyle by coming to visit All About Me which MumsNet last year voted the No1 interactive exhibition for children.
And if you still can’t resist a bit of screen time, why not browse our new All About Me website www.allaboutme.org. It might just change your life.
Tom Warman is the Marketing and Development Director at Eureka!