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Physical and mental health for young children
Physical and mental health for young children

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3.1 What can be done to reduce levels of childhood obesity?

Session 4 looked at some of the statistics that show the extent of this worrying health trend. You also looked at some of the causes of childhood obesity. As discussed in Session 4, the causes of childhood obesity are complex, and this means that finding solutions to reverse the trend and identifying interventions that will prevent children from becoming obese is challenging.

Contemporary thinking about ways to tackle the problem points towards the need for all to take responsibility. This includes children, parents and professionals, community, and society as a whole. This is similar to the content of Session 4 where the food environment was discussed. In relation to steps to prevent childhood obesity, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) (2019) reported that there is a need to address the factors that influence children’s eating habits. The RSPH state that we live in an ‘obesogenic environment’, meaning that many environments are influencing and promoting obesity. Such influences include advertising and ready availability of junk food.

Changing the environment beyond the child’s home and education setting may be an unrealistic aim. However, within education settings, encouraging physical activity and healthy eating can be helpful to address obesity. As with all health-related challenges, understanding the child and their families and understanding why obesity is a problem is important.