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Is it puppy fat or are we in denial about our kids weight?


10:14am 28th June 2011

York-based Benenden Healthcare Society says more parents in Yorkshire than anywhere else in the UK believe their children are a ‘completely normal size’ for their age, according to new research they’ve carried out into childhood obesity.

More than two thirds (68.27%) of parents in Yorkshire and the Humber are convinced that their children were not ‘chubby’ or ‘obese’, according to a report into 2,000 parents’ attitudes towards their offspring’s well-being by the  leading health & wellbeing mutual organisation, Benenden Healthcare Society.

Just 3.37% of parents in the region said their children were fat, even though half wished they were more active with their kids. Nearly four in five encourage their children to take exercise, even though household chores and being tired when they get in from work were the main reasons that prevented these parents participating in activities with their children themselves.

Yesterday, Paul Keenan, External Affairs Manager at Benenden Healthcare, said:

‘With rising levels of childhood obesity, Yorkshire parents shouldn’t be complacent about their children’s weight.

‘It’s never too late to start taking a positive attitude towards your family’s health and wellbeing and there’s a wealth of information out there on the issue.

‘At Benenden Healthcare we support our own members by providing health living advice on our website and through regular communications with our members – but that‘s not the only source of good information on health.

‘A great source of information about staying healthy and eating well is the NHS’s Change 4 Life website.  We support Change 4 Life and would certainly recommend parents and children to take a look and download lots of healthy advice –and it’s all free.’

Sister Jane Wallace of Benenden Hospital who specialises in obesity issues commented:

‘The Obesity epidemic currently raging has presented parents with a whole new set of challenges.’

‘There has been far more caution with children of this generation in terms of not allowing them freedom to walk and cycle to school.’

‘There is also wider availability of fast food and fizzy drinks which are cunningly designed to not only be delicious but also addictive and many of these temptations are on sale en-route to secondary school where parents have no control whatsoever on what the child is consuming.’

‘Children are also more sedentary and adept at entertaining themselves indoors with computer games, rather than playing outdoors.’

‘By 2050, it’s predicted that 25% of children will be obese: that is a body mass index of over 30. This epidemic is becoming far too serious and it is perhaps time for legislation to be considered in order to tackle the problem that our society has created.’

Benenden Healthcare Survey – UK wide statistics

The study quizzed parents across the UK on their attitudes and behaviours towards the health of their children aged between eight and 16.

  • Three per cent of parents thought their youngsters were severely overweight: nine per cent were classed as overweight and one in six were ‘chubby’.
  • A quarter said their child’s weight was down to their poor diet, while one in five blamed sugary snacks and one in five said they did no exercise. One in twenty said it was because they were ‘a big family’.
  • One in ten said their child is larger than other kids in their class and just 58 per cent of parents polled said their child was a ‘normal size’.
  • It also emerged that just 55 per cent of all UK parents quizzed encourage exercise and six in ten don’t bother ensuring their children eat their five a day fruit and veg.
  • One in six said they have no idea what their children are up to and what they eat during school time, while 44 per cent know they eat junk food on their way to and from school.
  • A third of adults said their kids prefer playing computer games instead of getting fresh air, while a third said they have ‘no interest in exercise’.
  • One in six said they give into their with half being guilty of giving them junk food with crisps, chips and chocolate favoured in UK households. One in ten do so ‘for an easy life’. 
  • Of those parents who consider their child to be overweight, four in ten don’t see this changing in the near future while 46 per cent went as far as to say they were concerned for their child’s future health.
  • 35 per cent of parents polled classed themselves as ‘overweight’ or ‘chubby’ with 62 per cent of these are worried that their children will turn out the same as them. 

The latest Health Survey for England (HSE) data shows that in 2009, 61.3% of adults (aged 16 or over), and 28.3% of children (aged 2-10) in England were overweight or obese, of these, 23.0% of adults and 14.4% of children were obese.

The Foresight report, Tackling Obesities: Future Choices project, published in October 2007, predicted that if no action was taken, 60% of men, 50% of women and 25% of children would be obese by 2050.

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