Childhood obesity is on the rise, with almost one in 10 four and five-year-olds hitting dangerously fat levels.
Advertising and different forms of food and beverage marketing to children of all age group are widespread across the world and are influencing children’s food preferences, purchase requests and consumption patterns.
Overweight and obese children are at higher risk of developing serious health problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and other respiratory problems, sleep disorders and liver disease. They may also suffer from psychological effects, such as low self-esteem, depression and social isolation. Childhood obesity increases the risk of obesity, noncommunicable diseases, premature death and disability in adulthood.
According to WHO, Overweight and obesity ranks as the fifth leading risk for death globally.
According to a study on, Proximity of Fast-Food Restaurants to Schools and Adolescent Obesity students with fast-food restaurants near (within one half mile of) their schoolsWith the change in food environment it is clearly evident that there is a serious need to take action. Globally, an extensive variety of fast food and drink products are now available in most markets, offering palatability, convenience and novelty. The wide availability and heavy marketing of many of these products, and especially those with a high content of fat, sugar or salt, is a big challenge to overcome & instill healthy eating habits to maintain a healthy weight, particularly in children, the future generation.
- Consumed fewer servings of fruits and vegetables
- Consumed more servings of soda, and
Were more likely to be overweight (odds ratio [OR] = 1.06; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.02, 1.10) or obese (OR = 1.07; 95% CI = 1.02, 1.12) than were youths whose schools were not near fast-food restaurants, after we controlled for student- and school-level characteristics.
Food promotions have a direct effect on children’s nutrition knowledge, preferences, purchase behaviour, consumption patterns and diet-related health. Current marketing practice predominantly promotes low nutrition foods and beverages. Rebalancing the food marketing landscape’ is a recurring policy aim of interventions aimed at constraining food and beverage promotions to children.
According to another study,Child body mass index, obesity, and proximity to fast food restaurants, reported by Jennifer M. Mellor College of William and Mary, Williamsburg VA, USA & his team Students residing in homes with higher assessment values were significantly less likely to be obese, and had significantly lower BMIs. Students who resided within one–tenth or one–quarter of a mile from a fast food restaurant had significantly higher values of BMI.
Tackling childhood obesity, and changing children’s relationship with food is a tricky task. We need multiple, co-ordinated strategies to get a grip over the problem. Food craving amongst children needs to be smartly and timely managed. Besides, restricting adverts for less healthy foods and increasing adverts for healthy foods is likely to provide useful contribution to the problem. One suggestion by doctors is to stop opening of fast food shops opening within 400 metres of every school .
The need of the hour is an effort to limit access to fast food nearby residents to prevent child obesity. Parents & Society at large need to give this a thought.