Obesity: Parents expected to outlive children

shutterstock_181116284

What happened to skinned knees and sun-kissed cheeks? These days children can be found tucked away in the confines of their homes playing Playstation, eating junk food and watching more than three hours of TV on a daily basis. The 2014 Health Active Kids Report, sponsored by Discovery Vitality and the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, highlights the current state of South African children’s health with particular reference to physical activity, healthy eating and maintaining a healthy weight. The results are in and South Africa has fared very badly.

Did you know that South Africa is home to more than 18,5 million children and young adults? The report card has found that there are some very concerning trends for inactivity and obesity among our youth and that, for the first time ever, it has been said that the parents of today could possibly outlive their children. Something needs to be done! “What’s clear from the report is that it is time for parents to step up. Authoritative parenting, where parents respect their child’s autonomy within firm but loving boundaries, has been associated with lower levels of TV viewing,” says Professor Vicki Lambert, from the MRC/UCT Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine.

South Africa has received a D overall in this report, compared to the C- from the previous report in 2010. While there has been an effort by government to give children access to healthy food and exercise facilities there is still a lot of ground to cover to get a better rating in the next report card. Overall, we are not doing enough o help children eat better and exercise more:

– Children spend more and more time in front of screens than they do outdoors getting exercise in the fresh air;

– Fast food and soft drink consumption is increasing at alarming rates;

– Few school tuck shops offer healthy options to the children; and

– Obesity rates keep increasing.

Did you know?

– Obesity affects 500 million people worldwide and is predicted to increase to 1 billion by 2030.

– In South Africa, more than 2 in every 3 adult women and 1 in every 3 adult men are either overweight or obese.

– The prevalence of obesity and overweight has doubled in adolescent boys over a 6-year period.

– The recommended amount of daily activity is 60 minutes per day, most kids get less than 20 minutes.

– 23% of girls and 10% of boys aged 10 to 14 are overweight or obese and 27% of girls and 9% of boys aged 15 to 17 are overweight or obese.

– More than two-thirds of adolescents eat fast food at least 3 times a week.

Written by Samantha Parrish, Features Writer