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Childhood Obesity Month: Why Keeping Your Child Fit and Active Matters for the Rest of Their Life

Sep 07, 2016 04:25 AM EDT

The childhood obesity epidemic has become so serious that it has its own awareness month, September. As weight problems among children heighten, so does the need to make them actively fit even at a young age.

Cancer Research UK recently published some startling statistics -- 1 in 5 children in the UK enter elementary school already overweight, and 1 in 3 leave overweight. Now, digest a couple more statistics: an obese child is five times more likely to be an obese adult, and obesity is linked to life-threatening diseases including cancer.

Statistics from many other countries are equally heartbreaking. Weight problems in children have been ballooning for decades, and governments have so far failed to help with the crisis.

The implications of the childhood obesity epidemic run deep. On a personal level, we are talking about the quality of life people will experience throughout their lifespan. Economically, we are talking about billions in weight-related healthcare spending.

There has been strong backlash to government measures such as sugar taxes. Opponents argue that it punishes people living in poverty and hurts those who economically benefit from sugary drinks.

"The Government has failed children. More than 57,000 children will become overweight or obese during primary school each year in England, and the Government had a chance to prevent this. The childhood obesity plan is simply not up to the task of tackling children's obesity. Instead, the next generation faces a future of ill health, shortened lives, and an overstretched NHS," director of prevention at Cancer Research UK Alison Cox said in a release.

"It will take more than encouraging exercise and a sugar tax to tackle the obesity epidemic. The Government has already recognised the influence of junk food marketing on children's health by banning junk food advertising during children's programmes -- it's time to close the loop hole during family viewing time," she added.

Serve your children appropriate portion sizes of healthy, natural foods. Encourage them to go outside and play, or to participate in athletic activities. Their lives depend on it.

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