Parents unaware their children are obese

Public health minister Caroline Flint today launched the Healthy Living Initiative, a programme to help families lead healthier lives and help parents.

Public health minister Caroline Flint
Public health minister Caroline Flint

A report published yesterday by the Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research Centre and the Department of Health has used evidence from a diverse range of sources to identify the main areas where families with children under 11 need further support to limit the risk of unhealthy weight gain. These barriers are:

  • limited parental awareness of weight status and associated health risks
  • parental beliefs that a healthy lifestyle is too challenging
  • pressures on parents which undermine healthy food choices
  • a perception that there are limited opportunities for active lifestyles

The Government's Healthy Living programme will tackle these barriers through a range of initiatives aimed at families with young children. It acknowledges that while there is a high level of awareness of the importance of good diet and physical activity, some parents need additional support to transfer awareness into action. The initiatives are designed to give parents the support and tools they need to recognise when their children are overweight and to tackle the problem. Building on existing programmes the initiatives will be rolled out throughout the year and into 2008 by the Government and its partners and which will focus on breaking down the barriers identified in the MRC report.

Caroline Flint said: ‘Tackling overweight and obesity in children is complex because there are many factors which contribute to the problem. And while we have been successful in raising awareness of the importance of good nutrition and exercise, putting that awareness into action has proved more difficult for some families.

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