Obesity in children – is it an epidemic?

Written by Tim Barnes-Clay

Nearly a third of children, aged between 2 and 15 are overweight or suffering with obesity. Some are calling it an epidemic.

Younger generations are being affected by obesity at an earlier age. Research shows that if left untreated, 85% of these children will be affected by obesity as an adult. This statistic alone is a reason to address weight issues from an early age.


Like obesity in adults, childhood obesity is caused by many factors, including our behaviour, genetics and culture. One of the biggest is taking in more energy from food than we use up.

The main difference between obesity in children and adults is that, depending up a child’s age and their circumstances, they generally have less control over their food intake. This is why it’s important for parents to be aware of the issue. Another huge factor in children becoming obese is a parents diet. Children with overweight parents more likely to become obese. 12 times more likely in fact.

It’s not just about food though, activity level is a factor too. Children should be very active. It is recommended that kids spend at least 60 minutes a day, being active, to a level where they are out of breath. The biggest issue is that children spend a lot of time inside. Research shows that kids spend, an average of 52 hours in from of a screen each week. Something that could easily be reduced with more time outside doing activities.


Obesity can lead to serious health issues, from diabetes, to heart disease, the physical health conditions can be dangerous. Not only are obese people more likely to suffer with physical conditions, they are more likely to end up suffering from mental illness such as depression.

It doesn’t just have a personal affect. The amount of money we spend a year on treatments for obesity and diabetes is huge. It is greater than what we spend on the police, fire service and judicial system combined. It was estimated that in 2014-2015 the NHS in England spend over £5 billion on obesity and overweight-related illnesses.


It’s simple really. By making healthier food choices, eating organic and having less junk is an easy way to reduce this risk of your child becoming obese. Getting out and about will help too. Playing games with the kids in the garden, or taking them for a walk, or seeing if their school offers after school clubs. Simple tricks that can help make a world of a difference. Just remember, children learn from their parents.

That’s why getting them used to eating well from a young age really will set them up for life.