Last week was National Childhood Obesity Week.
I feel sad when I see an overweight child who has difficulty moving around a sports field or even keeping up with their mates. A tubby youngster who wishes they could wear the stylish clothing like their contemporaries and look good in them. I know that not only is it not good for them today but they are risking having serious health problems later in life.
The aim of the National Childhood Obesity Week is to raise awareness of the dangers of being above a healthy weight during childhood and it's long term effects on health and wellbeing. There is also the effect it has on self-esteem. Children are often bullied and ridiculed for their appearance and weight, whether over or underweight, i.e. anorexia. We need to start talking openly and sensitively about the obesity epidemic, stop the negative attitudes towards it and instead offer support and help.
There are a variety of causes for being above the recommended weight. What and how much we eat, as well as how active we are, play a major part in whether a person will gain excess weight. Most people will not become overweight if they have an active lifestyle and eat a healthy balanced diet.
In the last century there has been a dramatic change in the way we live. Access to transport is easier. More of us are doing sedentary jobs. Children spend more time in front of computer or TV screens as part of their daily entertainment. The foods we eat are high in calories with a tendency for fast foods to contain more carbohydrates and fats.
There is heaps of help, advice and resources available on how to change those bad eating habits, encouragement to get involved in sports and activities to enjoy as well benefit from. There are family as well as age-group courses available, take a look at www.mendcentral.org as an example.
However, sometimes there are other factors that affect weight gain and this is something we see a lot of in our clinics. Some children and adults, lead an active life, don't eat excessively and eat a balanced, healthy diet but still cannot lose weight or even continue to gain weight. One reason for this can be food intolerance.
When we eat foods that our immune system has become intolerant too, this can cause fluid retention which in turn adds kilos. If you notice puffiness in the fingers, feet, under the eyes these are often tell-tale signs of fluid retention which can be as a result of food intolerance. If you feel bloated and uncomfortable after eating even a small meal, this can be another indicator of food intolerance. By identifying the foods that a child or adult is intolerant too and avoiding them can result in dramatic loss of excess fluid and therefore weight.
Experienced help is at hand to deal with this problem. See Obesity