The term obesity refers to a medical condition in which a person's body gains excessive accumulated fat (Ofei, 2005). This is up to the extent that places the health of the affected persons in problems. A person is measured to be obese when his/her body mass index (BMI) ranges between 25-30 kg/m2 (Patel, 2014). The BMI is a measurement that is attained by dividing a person's weight by the square of his/her height (Patel, et al., 2014). In most cases, (Reddon, et al., 2016). It can also be caused by endocrine disorders and mental illness among other factors (Kalra, 2012). This report is focused on childhood obesity among year six pupils in Londons Borough of Lewisham. The research will discuss the reasons as to why childhood obesity is an urban health problem affecting the young population in the region. It will also illustrate the factors that may contribute to the emergence of the problem of childhood obesity in Lewisham and then offer an effective recommendation for solving the problem.
The phrase childhood obesity characterizes the effect of obesity on children below 18 years (Sahoo, et al., 2015). In the 21st century, childhood obesity has become a leading social problem affecting millions of children in different parts of the world (Ahmad, et al., 2010). According to the National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP), in 2015/2016, 19.8 percent of all children aged between 10 and 11 in year 6 of learning in England were obese (NCMP, 2017). Also, 14.3 percent more children in the same age group were overweight (NCMP, 2017). This statistic supports the premise that an urgent, effective intervention to remedy childhood obesity, as a social problem in the nation should be performed.
The statistics also indicated that of children aged 4-5, approximately 9.3 percent were obese while 12.8% were overweight (JSNA, 2017). This means that a third of children aged 10-11 and a fifth of children aged 4-5 in England are either overweight or obese (JSNA, 2017). The figure below illustrates the prevalence of obesity among children in year six by year of measurement as well as sex (Public Health England, 2017).
Figure 1: Retrieved from the Public Health Englands website. The graph is prepared with a 95 percent confidence interval (Public Health England, 2017).
Figure 2: Retrieved from the Public Health Englands website. The graph illustrates the obesity trends of children aged between 2-15 years in England (Public Health England, 2017).
Figure 3: The chart above was retrieved from the Public Health England website. It illustrates the statistics of obese and overweight children in the UK and Ireland for years 2012 and 2014 (Public Health England, 2017).
The primary reason for choosing Lewisham for the analysis of childhood obesity is based on the reason that the region has the highest rate of childhood obesity in the UK. According to a report published by NCMP, based on the current childhood obesity trends in the region, approximately one-third of the girls and one-fifth of the boys in the nation will be obese by 2020 (JSNA, 2017). The report also stated that Lewisham has a very high number of children suffering from obesity compared to any other region in the nation.
Figure 4: Retrieved from the JSNA website. The graph illustrates the comparison of childhood obesity among year six students in Lewisham, England as well as London from 2008 to 2009.
Lewisham is also the third largest borough in inner London based on its total population (Lewisham, 2011). The area has a high number of children with approximately a fifth of them being under 15 years (Lewisham, 2011). Also, approximately 8.2 percent of its population is under the age of 5 (Lewisham, 2011). The population is expected to rise in the coming years by a significant proportionate. Also, among the young generation, the number of year six children who are overweight and obesity problems have increased tremendously over the last few years (Lewisham, 2011).
This research supports the argument that there is need to develop an immediate intervention into the problem of childhood obesity in the region. This is due to its associated psychological and sociological impact on the public health. Childhood obesity in Lewisham has been contributed by various factors such as unhealthy lifestyles and physical exercise inactivity among the young generation (Conrad & White, 2015). Subsequently, this has resulted in the creation of numerous weight health-related issues such as heart diseases, high blood pressure, cancer, hypertension, type 2 diabetes as well as respiratory problems (WebMD, 2017).
First food meals have been in the past considered to be among the primary contributors to the development of obesity and obesity-related problems among the young population (Hurt, et al., 2010). Also, the Borough of Lewisham contains a remarkably high number of fast food outlets compared to any other region of London (Travers, 2015). It is estimated that about 8.1 percent of all outlets in the borough of Lewisham are fast food outlets (Lydall, 2017). The region is one of the ten boroughs of London with the highest concentration of fast food businesses. They are estimated to be approximately 8000 in total.
Also, it is estimated that there is a total of 8,273 fast food outlets in the City of London, which is nearly one outlet for every 1,000 persons in London (Barron, 2012). Due to the nature of meals cooked in the fast-food outlets, the rate of fatty foods consumption among the young children is remarkably high. Past statistics have also illustrated that most children in London consume fast food meals on a regular basis (Kearney, 2010). Consequently, this has immensely increased their weight and even developed it into obesity. Some of the leading fast-food restaurants in the Borough of Lewisham includes Chicken Addict, Pho House, Levante Mediterranean Restaurant, The White Horse Pub and Gennaro Delicatessen (Trip Advisor, 2017).
Figure 5: Images of Some of the Fast Food Restaurants situated in the Borough of Lewisham.
There are several primary stratagems that can be employed as effective interventions to control the high rate of childhood obesity in the borough of Lewisham. The first method would be advocating proper nutrition among the young children in the region. The government can do this through mass public education on the importance of proper nutrition to the public. This can be executed via various media sources in the nation. It can also be done through the national education system by introducing a new subject in the regular education curriculum focused on training children in school on the importance of proper nutrition.
The importance of proper nutrition as an effective intervention for averting childhood obesity can be supported by a journal publication authored by Astrup (2015). According to the publication, proper nutrition using higher-protein diets can aid in weight control and regulation of obesity-related comorbidities. It can also be supported by a publication authored by Hesketh, et al., (2005). The publication supported the importance of healthy eating and involvement in physical activity as an effective strategy for childhood obesity prevention.
In conclusion, obesity is the accumulation of excessive fats in a person's body. Childhood obesity in the Borough of Lewisham has increased tremendously over the years, especially among year 6 level students. This has primarily been accredited to the existence or a high number of fast-food joints in the region. To remedy this situation, the government should perform mass training campaigns aimed at educating the public members in Lewisham on the importance of proper nutrition in preventing childhood obesity. An additional subject of the importance of nutrition should also be incorporated into the regular educational system in learning institutions in the region. It will aid in empowering young students with the knowledge of using proper nutrition to avoid obesity.
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