Health & Fitness Coronavirus in the UK: Fears of 'double whammy' for childhood obesity as families pushed towards unhealthy food

17:25  06 april  2020
17:25  06 april  2020 Source:   inews.co.uk

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  How severe is the obesity crisis? Obesity is on the rise, with more and more people carrying dangerous amounts of weight. In England alone, 29% of adults were classified as obese in 2017 - an 11% increase on just the year before, NHS Digital statistics show. READ MORE:Children from the poorest parts of England are more than twice as likely to be obese The US is also suffering, with obesity affecting 39.8% of adults in 2015/16, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Far from being trivial, 10,660 hospitalisations in England in 2017 were directly related to obesity, while 711,000 admissions had excess weight as a factor.

The UK 's obesity crisis is being fuelled by businesses pushing unhealthy food and larger portions on shoppers, according to health experts. The Royal Society for Public Health warned consumers were being tricked by a marketing ploy known as upselling.

When a child experiences obesity , even at a young age, they are at risk for higher, unhealthy weight, all the way into middle age.” Researchers also recommend that cities and states should consider farmers markets, which often offer a range of specialty and prepared foods , as part of essential food

  Coronavirus in the UK: Fears of 'double whammy' for childhood obesity as families pushed towards unhealthy food © Provided by The i

The coronavirus crisis could cause a childhood obesity “double whammy” as supply chains are hit and hardship pushes families towards cheap, unhealthy food, a charity has warned.

Bite Back 2030 - an anti-childhood obesity campaign - said the fallout from Covid-19 could eacerbate health inequalities between rich and poor families.

Speaking exclusively to i, James Toop, the charity’s chief executive, said: “If you look at what’s going to happen, we’ve got a potential double whammy where supply chains are going to be hit hard over the next few weeks and months, and that’s going to push the price of healthy food up”.

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The report said childhood obesity 'is an exploding nightmare in the developing world.' The report by WHO recommends unhealthy food and drink (right) should be banned from schools to tackle 'Any attempt to tackle childhood obesity should, therefore, include a reduction in exposure of children to

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The second impact related to household finances, as work dries up, salaries are cut and more people are forced to rely on loans or the welfare system.

'Vulnerable families'

“Particularly for more vulnerable families from a lower socioeconomic background who already have higher obesity rates... they’re hit by lost income which is going to make purchasing healthy food more challenging,” he said.

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Last Thursday the Department for Work and Pensions revealed there had been almost 950,000 new claims for Universal Credit in just over two weeks - up from the roughly 100,000 claims that are usually made in a fortnight.

“How we stop people from moving to unhealthy, low cost processed foods and actually keep healthy diets through this is going to be really important,” Mr Toop said.

“The typical divisions that exist between rich and poor, they’re going to be exacerbated by this situation,” he added.

There is some evidence that obesity-linked conditions such as heart disease and diabetes worsen the effect of the coronavirus.

'Big opportunity'

While the coronavirus could indirectly fuel childhood obesity, Mr Toop said it also presented a “big opportunity” to improve the nation’s health.

He pointed out that “junk food marketing” had been “taken out of the spotlight”, and “a lot of fast food takeaways have closed”.

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“We’ve seen a tonne of amazing grassroots activity that has actually really put a focus on young people’s health and food, whether that be Joe Wicks’ daily PE lessons or Jamie Oliver’s Keep Calm and Carry On Cooking TV show.”

Mr Toop called on supermarkets to “do more” by “targeting price promotions and special offers for healthy products”.

'Ground zero'

He said they could start by “putting together" £15 boxes of healthy foods - the weekly amount pupils eligible for free school meals receive through the Government’s new national voucher scheme - “so a family could come in and just put their voucher on the table”.

He added that the coronavirus crisis could be a “ground zero” for national health from which society could “build back better”.

“We at the moment have got zero business rates for all businesses. Wouldn’t it be amazing if when we come back, we keep that at zero for healthy businesses? So we rebuild our high streets to be healthy.”

Stay at home to stop coronavirus spreading - here is what you can and can't do. If you think you have the virus, don't go to the GP or hospital, stay indoors and get advice online. Only call NHS 111 if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home; your condition gets worse; or your symptoms do not get better after seven days. In parts of Wales where 111 isn't available, call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47. In Scotland, anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate for seven days. In Northern Ireland, call your GP.

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Giving children control over their meals could help reduce obesity .
New study finds that how children are fed could be just as important as what they eatHow children are fed may be just as important as what they are fed, although obviously options for unhealthy foods should be limited, they argue in a group statement released by the American Heart Association.

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