Obesity in Housebound Children in UK
Child obesity is in abundance in the U.K. Apart from eating more junk foods and chocolates and drinks, there are some other major factors which play a vital role in increasing the number of obese schoolchildren.
During my extensive research to seek out the alarming causes of child obesity in England, I have visited several schools, hospitals and child welfare institutions as well as local people in their homes. I have talked with experts on the issue, who have for some time been concerned about the increasing number of obese children in the U.K. I have held meetings and talks with several parents of such overweight children and I have also interviewed some of the obese teenagers themselves out in the streets.
It seems that everybody is worried by the increase of child obesity today in the UK. From my research and reports prepared by the experts, such as scientists, hospital consultants and child welfare organizations, I have formed my own conclusions and personal opinions about these alarming issues.
The number of television sets in mostly all middle class families indirectly plays a crucial part in child obesity. Computers, and the internet in almost every home – intended for education and knowledge – are also to blame.
The majority of children are found to be busy viewing their favourite TV programmes for long periods. They spend most of their leisure time lolling about continuously on a sofa or the carpet in front of the TV. In the meantime, they are fond of a variety of snacks… crisps, chocolates and soft drinks such as Pepsi and Coca-cola are their favourites. If they eat any fruit at all, it is usually a banana. At weekends, holidays and in the evenings, such children are found on the internet or watching TV, eating and drinking junk foods. No exercise and no walking. This situation is bound to encourage obesity in teenagers. Working parents use these ‘entertainments’ to keep them busy in their absence.
These children have no time for any exercise. They play only indoor games, which do not allow them to move about, not even in their gardens. Most of the residences have gardens, some equipped with swings. But I have seen very few children playing in their gardens. There are also several public parks close to their home, but not many children are found playing there either. Occasionally I have seen some children out with their parents in the larger public parks, but the playing fields and games centres meant for children are mostly empty. On the other hand, the internet cafes and amusement arcades of the shopping centres are full of children.
The majority of children are fond of indoor games where very little physical exercise is required and a lot of junk food is eaten. These are the major causes of obesity.
I see very few children playing in streets, although the facilities are there. In some places, perhaps the ever-increasing amount of traffic prohibits them from doing so. And in other places, teenage trouble-making gangs are responsible for children being kept safely indoors.
I have scarcely seen any white children out playing hide and seek, which was very common in previous generations in the UK. The other games, such as Cowboys and Red Indians are rarely seen now, and other games which could quite easily be played in their own gardens have largely died out. With a little encouragement and use of the imagination, children could again play together very happily in their own or their friends’ gardens.
Birthday parties are also celebrated with junk foods. The excessive amounts of cakes and ice-creams consumed by children at such parties is another cause of obesity. Most children are encouraged to celebrate their birthdays with related children and schoolfriends. Many of these children attend such parties a couple of times a month on average, and are used to eating sugary, fatty cakes and high calorie ice-cream.
Many of the children I interviewed – both at home and outside – revealed that they preferred staying at home with their computers to going outside.
It is high time the parents addressed this situation and encouraged their children to play games and utilize the public parks. As part of its campaign to stamp out child obesity, the government should establish safe areas for children to play in the streets without any fear of traffic or gangs.