BEXLEY CHILDHOOD OBESITY PROBLEM
Bexley has one of the highest rates of obesity in London, with 23.4% of children starting primary school as either overweight or obese. This number keeps going up, with 36.6% of 10–11-year-olds leaving elementary school overweight.
Children who are obese are five times more likely to be obese as adults. This puts them at a higher risk for long-term conditions like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases like stroke and heart disease, cancer, and musculoskeletal conditions, and can have a negative effect on their mental health. 64.6% of adults aged 18 and up in Bexley are overweight, which is more than in London and England. This means there are about 77,620 overweight or obese men in Bexley and 82,750 overweight or obese women.
There are many things that can cause obesity, such as the environment and infrastructure, biology, physiology, income, education, social groups, the economy, culture, and behaviour. However, at a basic level, people gain weight when they eat more calories than they burn. Because of how fast-paced our lives are, the environment has changed in ways that make it easier to be lazy and eat fast food.
More and more people are eating out, eating high-calorie foods, and buying hot food from takeaways that sell high-fat, high-salt, and high-sugar foods. These high-calorie foods are dietary risk factors for obesity, and it is well known that the food environment affects individual behaviour and has a big part to play in reducing obesity and improving the food landscape.
Obesity has a lot of different causes, which has been known for a long time. However, most efforts to fight obesity and help people lose weight have focused on helping people change their own habits, like eating less and moving more. It is important for people to take responsibility for their own health-seeking behaviours and understand the role they play in creating their own healthy lifestyle.
Chapters one and two of the Childhood Obesity Plan came out in 2016 and 2018, respectively. This gave the plan momentum and put Local Authorities in a position to work across their local areas by tackling wider causes of obesity, like the built environment, and partnering with local organisations to make system-wide changes.
Taking a whole system approach is the only way to make obesity everyone’s business and work toward a shared vision to reduce obesity and improve the health of residents. This approach builds on the idea of “Health in All Policies” and recognises that we can do better by working with the community and the wider system to deliver long-term benefits that are sustainable.
We will also work with schools and communities to improve not only the food available, but also education and knowledge about healthy eating, so that children and families are more likely to make good decisions about food.
Bexley’s Obesity Strategy aims to put in place a long-term, whole-systems approach and sets goals for reducing the number of overweight children and adults over the next five years. It uses the larger system by focusing on key themes throughout the life-course:
- Make healthier foods easier to find.
- Make an environment that makes people want to be active
- Be aware of the connections between obesity and mental health.
- Help people have healthy lives by giving them good jobs
- Give the workforce the tools it needs to help with the obesity plan
- Make healthy living a part of all plans
- Offer good services that help people manage their weight
- Send out core and specific messages about healthy lifestyles
Getting the key themes done requires input and commitment from a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, with the community at the core of the whole system approach. Engaging with key partners and local people will encourage them to build healthy environments, take care of their health by choosing healthy food and activities, and help improve the health and well-being of future generations, so that obesity is no longer a threat to public health.
WHAT CAN I DO?
There are lots of things you can do to make a positive change. Starting with the rebranded Change4Life now called ‘healthier families’. Here you will find lots of useful tips to help combat child obesity.
Whilst talking about a child’s diet is important, physical activity is also of paramount importance. Here is a useful link where you can find more information about a child’s physical activity level. We run regular sessions for children like our football training in Bexley
The information is taken from various resources and we do have not completed any of this research ourselves. Some sources are: