What is obesity? And why is it on the rise?

It appears that advertising has a direct impact on the diets that children now eat and for families on low incomes this can become an added pressure if children are frequently requesting branded food that has been advertised relentlessly on the television. Governments approach incentives The concern in this area of children’s health is no doubt rising, so much so that the current government is now playing an integral part in raising the awareness and importance of fresh fruit and vegetables along with exercise in young children’s lives by introducing the School Fruit Scheme. The department of Health states that the:

‘ Consumption of fruit and vegetables by children seems to have fallen over the last twenty years. For too many families, access to healthy food is limited, especially in some low-income areas where affordable fruit and vegetables can be hard to find. These inequalities are reflected in health, as people on low income are three times more likely to die early from coronary heart disease than those from professional backgrounds. http://www.doh.gov.uk/schoolfruitscheme/minister.htm

The aim of the School Fruit Scheme entitles children up to six years of age to free fruit each day. The government believes that this alongside new nutritional standards for school meals, and in conjunction with community projects to improve access to healthy food, will be a vital step forwards towards improving all children’s health and tackling health inequalities across the country in a variety of ways for example with breakfast clubs, after school clubs and the introduction of more Sure Start projects where all health organisations and facilities can be accessed all under the one roof, educating children , parents and the wider community as a whole.

Agency involvment

It appears that stronger links need to be forged between professional agencies parents and the wider communities in a bid to tackle the inequalities within young children. Practitioners within the class environment can do this by encouraging children and parents to participate in healthy cooking activities for example making fruit salad or other cultural dishes. This could be ongoing with activities and stories based around healthy eating and a healthy life style, for example with the story of The Hungry Caterpillar, discussing healthy food, looking after teeth etc.

It would also be highly beneficial to encourage awareness in adults, parents and children alike by having information, books and literature regarding certain important health issues readily available in a wide variety of languages so that the information reaches the whole community regardless ethnicity. Indeed the Government’s commitment to opening the Sure Start Programme in areas of disadvantage appear to be a step in the right direction in combating the equalities within children’s health.


This essay has identified how obesity is on the increase in the UK and the effects this can have upon young children. It is fair to say that many factors appear to contribute to this problem from advertising to current lifestyles and that inequality; particularly poverty has a significant bearing. Hopefully with the new government schemes like The School Fruit Scheme and Sure Start along with schools and other agencies informing parents about the benefits of healthy eating and exercise these inequalities will start to eliminate and the health of children will improve.

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