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Promoting Healthy Eating Habits To Curb Childhood Obesity In England



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There are diseases that do not seem as dangerous yet pose real danger to victims as they not only make them vulnerable to secondary infections, but also complicate their lives. Obesity, one such disease, has been rampant and has called for the attention of international bodies as they all rush in an attempt to curb its so far adverse repercussions. This condition of being overweight has affected a massive human population of 2.1 billion, a significant rise from the 857 million in 1980. Obesity is not a harm to the infected individuals, but also to a nation as they reduce the productivity of an individual thus affecting the entire nation.


Obesity has been defined by several organization taking into account different factors that rate from food consumption rate to other more scientific factors like body mass. According to the WHO (2015, 1), it the accumulation of fat in the human body in manners that are more likely to impair health. According to the Mayo Clinic (2015, 1), it is a disorder that causes complex imbalance of fat allocation and processing, thus leading to further complications. To be obese and to be overweight are two different conditions, though both are geared toward the same direction. A Body Mass Index of 25 classifies an individual to be overweight and to be obese requires that your BMI reaches or even exceeds 30 (WHO 2015, 1). Using BMI to classify the weight status of individuals point to more danger posed to the obese individuals compared to their other counterparts (Dehghan, Akhtar-Danesh & Merchant 2005, 2). It is vital to note that other issues that have been factored into obesity include inactivity, that is besides the voluminous consumption of fatty food stuffs.


Statistics of Obese Children in England

The obese status in England has taken pole positions of research in United Kingdom as the condition has become more of the menace than the name suggests. However, reports from research conducted in the recent have proven that the population affected by the disease could be on the decline. According to BBC News Health (2015, 1), the populations of affected children under the age of ten has been projected to have reduced compare to the 90’s and even earlier. The projection is also supported by HSCIC (2014, 20) and the NHS (2015, 1). The projection proves that the increase of affected children that defined the decade of 1994 to 2003 did not very much reflect in the next decade of 2004 to 2013. That is provable because when the age factor is further spilt, the populations of affected children aged between 11-15 are quite significant, pointing to earlier infections (BBC 2015, 1).


Infection rates have been determined by the prevalence of the disease in different genders. For boys, children of 2-5 years old had a minimum prevalence of 19.5% in 1995 and a maximum of 26.0% in 2007. 6-10 years old boys had a prevalence of 22.6% minimum in 1994 and a maximum of 33.0% in 2011 (BBC 2015, 1). BBC further clarifies that there was a minimum of 26.7% minimum prevalence for 11-15 years old boys and a maximum of 27.8% in 2013. For girls, there was a prevalence minimum of 18.3% in 1995 and a maximum of 24.4% in 2008 for 2-5 years old. For 6-10-year-old, there was a minimum of 22.5% in 1996 and 2005 reflected 32.2% maximum prevalence. 11-15-year-olds reflected 28.3% in 1995 as a minimum as a maximum of 36.7% in 2004 and the same value in 2012 (NHS 2015, 1).


Analysis of the statistics shows that the levels of prevalence were high in the 90’s with an average of 11% and 12% for boys and girls respectively. Between 2004 and 2005, the enigma reached its peak with 18% and 19% for boys and girls respectively. The opposite has been the trend in 2011 and 2012, as the percentages dropped to 14 for both genders (HSCIC 2014, 19). The research also proved that the obese status in urban areas was higher than it was in rural areas. The factor could be influenced by the income capacity of both regions and the type of food available. Other factors like exercise and work could also explain that as people from the rural areas tend to engage a lot in activities. The reception and proportion of obese children in schools were low in 2013 at 9.3%. However, the reception was even lower in 2012 at 9.5% and at 9.9% in 2007. It also shows that stigmatization of obese children is reducing.

Source: (NHS 2015, 1)

Economic Costs of Children Suffering From Obesity

Globally, obesity has been projected as a damage to the economic stability of different nations as the cost of maintaining the disease are high. The relations could be due to food consumption, medical expenses or the unproductive nature of the victims as they have little ability of providing as much as they consume (Moreno, Pigeot & Ahrens 2011, 2). On some occasions, they have been likened to bottomless pits that consume so much and never fill up (Parry 2015, 1). Moreno, Pigeot and Ahrens (2011, 2), explain that the high cost of maintaining obesity clarifies the reasons for the massive campaigns that are held against the enigma. That is apart from the unwelcome health complications that it presents to individuals (Karnik & Kanekar 2012, 3).


Equivalised to household income, there are variations in proportions of affected children as higher populations of children from the lowest quintiles are affected compared to their richer counterparts. There are factors that broadcast the reasons for that variation (HSCIC 2014, 20).According to Public Health England (2015, 1), a survey conducted in 2007 depicted that the cost of caring for obesity around its related complications showed that England had used 4.2 billion pounds. The figure was estimated to increase to 6.3 in 2015 but could not have changed much owing to the fact the populations affected have not increased that much. However, the improved Medicare and high economy cost implies that they could still cost the earlier projection to maintain (PHE 2015, 1). There were projections that also suggested that the increasing population would mean would result in more obese children, a population of approximately 9.7 billion thus driving the NHS t use 50 billion pounds (Veerman, Van Beeck, Barendregt & Mackenbach 2009, 367). PHE research in 2014 also suggested that there is an annual increase of 352 million pounds spent on severely obese patients as formal care by the local authorities (PHE 2015, 1). Comparison of the total budget projected by the NHS on obesity to the protection budget suggest that as much money is spent on the negligible obese population (Parry 2015, 1)


Change4life MEND: National Public Health Strategy for Tackling Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity has had its share of damage as it claims live of the English population through secondary complications like heart conditions or even blood pressure. As such strategies have been adopted by the government and other organizations to curb the worm in the can through the NHS (Great Britain 2007, 2). MEND (Mind, Exercise, Nutrition….Do It) is an initiative that has indulged in establishing health programs aimed at improving the lives of the obese children in England (NHS 2015, 1). It aims at changing lives and restoring hope where all else has been lost just the label Change4life. It provides teaching resources to encourage the schooling of obese children in environs that best work for their health conditions. Through such programs, the initiative has been able to focus on improving the self-confidence of obese children and their health conditions (NHS 2015, 1).


It supports affected children by starting programs that encourage them to live healthy lifestyles. The MEND policies are enacted through exercise specialists, psychologists and nutritionists who all aim at gearing their expertise in revolutionizing the obese world for the better. The programs are effected through partnerships with various organizations through which they secure their funding (Branca, Nikogosian & Lobstein 2007, 49). The role played by MEND is significant and has borne fruit as more school enrolment has been registered for the obese children. Such initiatives not only support the obese children, but also are also significantly played in degenerating the stigma toward obese victims/patients (Great Britain 2007, 2). As such they play significant roles in reducing the populations that are affected with obesity and have proven how valuable it is support obese children (Branca, Nikogosian & Lobstein 2007, 49).


Impact of Change4life MEND Policy

The Change4life MEND policy has been significant in improving the lives of the individuals living with obesity. For instance, the program has supported and funded schooling programs that support schooling of obese children (NHS 2015, 1). Other programs that include exercise activities and nutritional services have also improved the health status of the obese patients. In a way, the initiative has been significant in improving and exploring the true purpose of obese patients and giving them a new lifeline (Kickbusch 2008, 56). It has through partnership with other bodies like the NHS, secured good treatment for obese patients as well. The three years strategy that was aimed at turning the perception of obesity as well as changing the lives of the victims has been significant.


However, the NHS cited that the program lacks the spine and power to commit to some of its aspirations. For instance, the budgeting allocation to the program has been inadequate and does not allow it to fully serve its purpose (NHS 2015, 1). For instance, availing the right food to the poor individuals becomes a total snag because the budgetary allocations cannot allow for that. The organization’s ambitions have also been met with some resistance by individuals who fear being associated with it due to stigma (Zilanawala, Davis-Kean, Nazroo, Sacker, Simonton & Kelly 2014, 2). The achievements, though exemplary, have been limited by these factors that either render the organization powerless or make it hard to reach its effectively targeted population (Kickbusch 2008, 56). The policy also aims at tackling the effects of obesity, rather than targeting the cause and prevention mechanisms (Sassi 2010, 43).


Evidence of Public Health Interventions on Childhood Obesity in England and Wales

Under one emblem, the United Kingdom, England, and Wales have always shared a lot in common. For instance, they both have the NHS that is charged with the responsibility of improving the health welfare of citizens in both countries. The NHS has partnered with organizations and through policies and bills passed in both countries, has been able to start initiatives to control obesity (Davies, Fitzgerald & Mousouli 2008, 217). However, it is significant to note as much as England documented population-wide strategies, Wales is limited in that aspect as they do not have such strategies. That is factored to their little population compared to England. Moreover, Wales has not also set targets to stop the rise of obesity. England aims to reduce the rise of obese populations. Both regions, however, have significantly set nutrition policies that aim at ensuring that their populations eat well as they invest in campaigns control the citizens’ feeding habits.


Evidence Related to Eating and Physical Activities Habits in Children

In England, the number of schooling obese children has increased compared to 2007 . The children have become more active, confident and participate in physical activities. So far, England is one of the few nations in which obesity ha effectively been tackled, and the populations reduced. Contrary to the state in England, Wales experiences the opposite as the obese populations continue rising (Misstear 2014, 1). The stigma has a reduced to an extent but is not comparable to England as their activities are still limited. The eating habits have however improved in both countries.



The enigma of obesity has plagued the English government and several other governments across the globe. Factor to that, most nations spend billions on curbing the problem as it threatens the economy and presents other complications to patients. However, the enigma has been hard to tackle as most nations focus on improving the status of the already infected populations rather than curbing the cause of the problem. This insignificant factor plays more role in ensuring that the problem costs more to control than it should cost. However, issues that have been factored into curbing the disease have been effective. Diet controls and exercising reduce the chances of being attacked by other infections for the obese patients. Through initiatives that include budgetary allocations and creation of policies, the English government has immensely contributed to reversing some of the effects of the disease. To conclude, it is evidenced that healthy eating and good physical activities can reduce the level of obesity in children.


Davies, Fitzgerald & Mousouli (2008, 234), and (Branca, Nikogosian & Lobstein 2007, 24), state that much of the activity against obesity has been focused on its effect than the causing factors. The difference between a population of with active obese patients and a population that does not have any would be achieved if the focus was changed (Pearce & Witten 2010, 321). Creating policies that govern the feeding and care of children would immensely enable governments to monitor the progress of children and the measures to be taken after identifying the disorder at an early age. As such, governments would have the capacity to totally control the populations affected with obesity and even save more money, as a result (Middleton 2008, 1).


List of References

HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE INFORMATION CENTER., (2014). Statistics on Obesity,       Physical Activity and Diet: England. National Statistics.

MORENO AZNAR, L., PIGEOT, I., & AHRENS, W. (2011). Epidemiology of obesity in            children and adolescents: prevalence and etiology. New York, Springer.

PUBLIC HEALTH ENGLAND., Economic impact :: Public Health England Obesity Knowledge           and Intelligence team. (2015). Retrieved March 2, 2015, from

NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE., Our national partners. (2015). Retrieved March 2, 2015,       from

GREAT BRITAIN. (2007). Tackling child obesity-first steps: eighth report of Session 2006-07 ;    report together with formal minutes, oral and written evidence. London, Stationery           Office.

BRANCA, F., NIKOGOSIAN, H., & LOBSTEIN, T. (2007). The challenge of obesity in the       WHO European Region and the strategies for response. Copenhagen, Denmark, WHO    Regional Office for Europe.

SASSI, F. (2010). Obesity and the economics of prevention fit not fat. Paris, OECD.   

KICKBUSCH, I. (2008). Policy innovation for health. New York, Springer.

DAVIES, H. D., FITZGERALD, H. E., & MOUSOULI, V. (2008). Obesity in childhood and     adolescence. Westport, Conn, Praeger.

PEARCE, J., & WITTEN, K. (2010). Geographies of obesity environmental understandings of      the obesity epidemic. Farnham, Surrey, Ashgate.   

BRANCA, F., NIKOGOSIAN, H., & LOBSTEIN, T. (2007). The challenge of obesity in the       WHO European Region and the strategies for response. Copenhagen, Denmark, WHO    Regional Office for Europe.

DEHGHAN, M., AKHTAR-DANESH, N., & MERCHANT, A. (2005). Childhood obesity,       prevalence and prevention. Nutrition Journal, 4(24), 1-8.

KARNIK, S., & KANEKAR, A. (2012). Childhood Obesity: A Global Public Health Crisis.        International Journal of Preventive Medicine, 3(1), 1-7.

VEERMAN, L., VAN BEECK, E., BARENDREGT, J., & MACKENBACH, J. (2009). By how           much would limiting TV food advertising reduce childhood obesity? The European        Journal of Public Health, 19(4), 365-369.

ZILANAWALA, A., DAVIS-KEAN, P., NAZROO, J., SACKER, A., SIMONTON, S., &        KELLY, Y. (2014). Race/ethnic disparities in early childhood BMI, obesity and            overweight in the United Kingdom and United States. International Journal of Obesity.   

MIDDLETON, J. (2008, AUGUST 14). Child obesity 2: Recommended strategies and     interventions. Retrieved March 2, 2015, from          practice/specialisms/childrens-nursing/child-obesity-2-recommended-strategies-and-           interventions/1799194.article

MISSTEAR, R. (2014, November 27). Between seven and 11, thousands of Welsh kids develop weight problems… Why? Retrieved March 2, 2015, from       overweight-8181192

WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION., (2015, January 1). Obesity and overweight. Retrieved   January 1, 2015, from

NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE., (2015, January 30). Child obesity rates are ‘stabilising’ .        Retrieved March 1, 2015, from           obesity-rates-are-stabilising.aspx

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PARRY, L. (2015, March 2). Obesity costs the global economy as much as war and terrorism,      totalling TRILLION each year Read more: Http://     2842212/Obesity-costs-global-economy-war-terrorism-totalling-2TRILLION-year. Mail      Online.

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