Changes in Diet Can Tip Scales to the Healthy; Wales' Obesity Epidemic Is an Issue That Won't Go Away and Is a Cause of Major Concern. Dr Kirsty Little from Public Health Wales Explains Why We Should Be Worried
THE 'obesity epidemic' may seem like old news, but it is one of those problems that just won't go away. We now know that over half of Welsh adults are currently overweight or obese but what about the future, what about our children? The Welsh Health Survey for 2011 found that just over a third of children aged 2-15 years were overweight or obese.
That's about 10 children in every classroom in the country.
The situation isn't getting any better either. The Health Behaviour in School Children survey, which is conducted every four years, showed that the situation hasn't improved since 2006, with just under one in five teenagers, aged 11 to 16 years, being either overweight or obese in both 2006 and 2010.
Angela Tinkler, consultant in public health for Public Health Wales, said: "Obesity has become commonplace in society and this makes it increasingly difficult for people to distinguish between what is a healthy weight and what is overweight and harmful to their health. It's easy to think, as so many people around us are overweight or obese, that all this concern is about a cosmetic issue rather than health. But it isn't.
"Obesity is a major public health issue, with both short term and long term impacts on health - in particular for children.
"We know that obesity can cause breathlessness, difficulty sleeping, feeling tired, back and joint pain. I think all of us can think of someone who is overweight and suffers with some of these issues.
"This not only limits their ability to participate in everyday activities but also creates a vicious circle whereby participating in exercise becomes much more difficult and weight loss becomes even harder.
"Some people, and I think this is particularly important when we are considering children and young people, may also experience psychological problems such as low self-esteem, poor self-image and low confidence levels which may lead to depression. As a result obesity can impair a person's quality of life and may have an impact on their school and social lives.
"Diabetes is another important health consequence, with more children now being diagnosed with obesity related type two diabetes.
"This puts them at an increased risk of problems with their eyes and kidneys in particular. …