Obesity is a problem that often starts in childhood, when we develop our relationships with food and our attitudes towards our own bodies. It is a topic that is particularly important for those of us who are raising children while struggling with our own weight. How can we bring up happy, healthy children who won’t have the same issues?
Unfortunately, one recent attempt to tackle childhood obesity in schools has emphasised the difficulty of solving this complex problem. The study tested a programme of school-based activities designed to encourage healthy eating among primary students in the West Midlands. Extra physical activity was incorporated into the school day, parents were invited in for cooking workshops, and children had the chance to participate in activities with the local football club. However, at the end of the year there was no significant difference in the weight, activity levels or diet of the children who took part in the programme and those who did not. It seems that schools will not be able to solve childhood obesity on their own. It may take a combination of schools, parents, food manufacturers, advertisers, and the wider community to change the way that children eat.
What Can Help?
While the results of this study were disappointing, we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that schools aren’t able to solve this problem by themselves. We need a more holistic approach to childhood obesity that ensures children are given healthier choices and encouraged not just by their teachers but by their families, friends and even the messages they see on TV. It is the same thing we learn when we are trying to lose weight as adults. You need to be committed to making changes in every area of your life. You can’t just give up snacking at work or only eat well when you are at home. You need to change your whole attitude to food and commit to living a healthier lifestyle forever.