Mercy Muroki: Parents' choices are to blame for obese kids

Perhaps it's time for parents, rather than the state, to take up more responsibility for looking after their children properly

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The NHS has announced that pre-school children will be among the 1,000 severely obese youngsters a year to be treated in a new national network of 15 specialist weight loss clinics.

The clinics will be open to obese children from aged two and will offer support from specialists such as dieticians, psychologists, and social workers in a bid to slim down the shocking figure of 2.5 million overweight children in England.

Now these figures show something is going dramatically wrong in society. We're more medically advanced than ever before, health advice is more accessible than ever before, we're throwing more money at health and social care than ever and yet people seem to be getting more and more unhealthier... Our children are getting unhealthier...

In fact, evidence shows younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer, and the latest Public Health England data shows that the proportion of overweight 4 and 5 year olds is at its highest ever, at nearly 1 in 4 preschoolers. The proportion of children who are classed as severely obese is also at its highest in recent times.

So who is to blame for this epidemic of overweight kids? Well, whilst it might be convenient for many to blame everything on genetics these days - I'm afraid it's parents who have to take the lion's share of responsibility. Not all the blame, but certainly most of it.

Poor diet and low levels of physical activity are THE primary causes of being overweight and nearly half of pregnant women attending their first appointment are also overweight themselves, something that is also linked to childhood obesity.

Look, I understand that the cost of living is high, and growing. I get that obesity is linked to poverty. In fact, the rate of obese preschoolers is twice as high in the most deprived areas than in the most privileged.

I also understand that putting money into tackling child obesity in the early stages can save the taxpayer money in the long run. But why is our solution to everything to throw more taxpayer money at it? Where is the role of personal responsibility these days, and in this case parental responsibility?

I hazard a guess that so many overweight children are overweight because their parents allow them to live a sedentary life infront of the playstation or the iPad, snacking on Wotsits and KitKats.

Shifting the blame in society is clearly in vogue. But parents' choices surely are to blame for obese kids. Perhaps it's time for parents, rather than the state, to take up more responsibility for looking after their children properly.