Although the much-needed Government proposals to tackle childhood obesity provide an important step to move forward, more needs to be done over a sustained period of time to address the issue, according to a physical activity and nutrition expert at the University of Bedfordshire.
Dr Julia Zakrzewski-Fruer, a Lecturer in Health, Nutrition & Exercise, feels that a Government response to tackling childhood obesity has been a long time coming, so the new bold plans have been broadly welcomed.
“The plans are a good start, but more still needs to be done to address the issue make a meaningful impact on reducing rates of childhood obesity,” said Dr Zakrzewski-Fruer, who is part of the University’s School of Sport Science & Physical Activity.
Dr Zakrzewski-Fruer believes a combined approach from the Government, companies and individuals, focusing on a wider range of factors that affect obesity, and sustained pressure over time is needed to solve the impending UK obesity epidemic.
“Childhood obesity has reached a critical level in the UK, often resulting in early development of cardio-metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. The cost of treating these diseases is putting a growing burden on the already stretched NHS, which is not sustainable in the long term,” said Dr Zakrzewski-Fruer.
“The new Government plans, which aim to reduce excessive energy intake from food and drink through limiting access to sugary drinks, sweets and chocolate, are a step in the right direction to limit calorie intake and combat obesity. They also send an important message to the public that the issue of childhood obesity must be taken seriously.”
Dr Zakrzewski-Fruer pointed out that there are many factors that can contribute to high energy (calorie) intakes in children and adolescents that vary between different children.
“There needs to be a bigger focus in promoting physical activity to overcome the issue of low energy expenditure that contributes to weight gain and poor health. Crucially, increased physical activity can improve one’s health even without a variation in body weight.
“Unfortunately, eating and physical activity behaviours are often complex and difficult to change through a one-size-fits-all approach. That’s why a blend of Government initiatives to promote healthier choices, efforts from companies to adapt their marketing and products, and a conscious effort from individuals and parents is needed if we are to make meaningful progress in fighting obesity.”
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