Help Youth to Be Active & Eat Right
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared childhood obesity as one of the most serious public health challenges of the 21st century.
CANSA recommends parents & educators teach youth the value of:
- An improved diet reflective of increased consumption of fruit & vegetables and reduced intake of fats, salt & sugars – read more…
- The importance of being a healthy weight
- The benefits of a healthier lifestyle with increased levels of physical activity (children and adolescents should engage in at least 60 minutes per day of moderate to vigorous physical activity, at least five days per week)
Did You Know?
- WHO estimates that there are 42 million overweight children, globally, under five years of age.
- Nearly 35 million of these children are living in developing countries.
- Estimates are that one out of every 10 school-aged children, is overweight. Of these, around 30-45 million are classified as obese accounting for 2-3 % of the world’s children, aged 5-17.
Childhood Obesity in SA on the Rise
Seventeen percent of South African children between the ages of 1-9 years of age are overweight.
This is cause for great concern, given the fact that overweight children, tend to become obese adults.
Causes Childhood Obesity
Childhood obesity is linked primarily to unhealthy eating habits, but is also due to children today being much less physically active than in the past.
This may also be attributed to the rising popularity amongst children of technological leisure activities, such as video games or other online pursuits, which do not require as much or any physical activity, when compared to traditional children’s leisure activities. A lack of urban spaces for recreation could also play a role.
Measures to Counter Childhood Obesity
- The Department of Basic Education developed ‘Guidelines for Tuck Shop Operators’ in 2014 to address the problem of growing obesity in South African children and youth.
- The 2011 Life Skills subject of the Curriculum Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) was developed to encourage healthy, informed decisions regarding nutrition, among youth.
However, it is vital that parents or caregivers take primary responsibility for demonstrating a healthy, balanced lifestyle to children / teens.
Overweight Children Tend to Become Obese Adults
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines ‘obesity’ or ‘being overweight’ as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.
In South Africa there is an alarming increase in the amount of overweight and obese individuals, with more than 29% of men and 56% of women classified as being overweight or obese (Puoane et al). The 2002 South African Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS) documented that 10% of South African women aged between 15 to 24 years were already considered obese.
The main cause of obesity is the imbalance of calories consumed against calories expended. The global shift in dietary patterns of energy dense foods, high in sugar and fat content, but low in essential nutrients and micronutrients, are one of the most significant factors.
The determinants of weight gain, overweight and obesity:
Apart from the genetic (single gene defects such as Prader- Willi syndrome, Bardet- Biedl syndrome and congenital leptin deficiency, which are rare), economic, social and behavioural determinants of obesity, the following benchmarks are noticeable:
- Physical inactivity (sedentary living)
- Consumption of energy dense foods
- Sugary drinks containing sucrose and fructose corn syrup
- Fast foods and increased intake of fats
- Refined cereals (complex carbohydrates and reduced fibre), added sugar and salt
- Infants and children that were not breastfed have increased risk of obesity later in life
Classified as a chronic disease, obesity is associated with an increased risk for cancer. Read more…