Obese children now from lower-income households

In bygone times having large children were prized. It was a sign that you were rich, had the wealth to feed your children and that they ate well. Unlike those skinny people who had no food to eat. Larger children were a mark of status, coming from higher income households where there was more disposale wealth.

This trend appears to be reversing. A study of obese children in England found that many of them were of poorer socio-economic backgrounds.

How has this happened? It is easy to point the finger at an abundance of high fat, high calorie, cheap food. In short, fast food.

Take a walk down your high street. Start by counting how many chip shops you can see, or shops selling fried chicken. You would probably see a fair few. And see what happens when the kids are dismissed after school. You will see many crowding around these shops, getting their fill of fried chicken and chips.

To top that all off: to quench their thirst after consuming the oily, high sodium food, many opt for sugary fizzy drinks.

The high fat, high calorie, high sugar diet is repeated over many days and weeks. We may talk of the social responsibility in allowing fast food places to target school children but that is what happens because fast food shops know where the bulk of their clients lie. To make matters worse, some children assume that eating fried chicken gives them protein to grow big, which is what they want. Chicken is a source of protein, but when fried it is high in fat and the combination of caloric drinks does not help either.

The consumption of such a high fat diet is a ticking time bomb for the NHS. In two or three decades from now many people will increasingly be obese, and there will be a higher population of middle-aged obese that threatens to burden the NHS.

The NHS should encourage exercise, but unfortunately many of the measures – such as to take 10,000 steps a day – are ill conceived. You could do 10,000 steps a day, but if that is done at a slow pace that hardly taxes your heart rate, you are not burning fat. In addition, fat burning only takes place after the body has been active for at least twenty minutes, at a heart rate of at least 60% MHR (Maximal Heart Rate).

The overabundance of cheap fast food has meant that lower income families see it as a cheap affordable way to feed their children. And when their children get obese, they are viewed as being “big” which many think is good for them.

We are at a point of disconnect, but what we have to address is this. Better, nutritional food costs more. And it doesn’t taste as good at the same price. Unless we can introduce subsidies on healthy food, we will only evolve into a society that increasingly consumes junk food. The price we pay for promoting healthy eating through subsidies will go a longer way towards reducing the ticking time bomb of poor social health.