Children obesity in the UK
Obesity, which is defined as ‘abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health’, nowadays is a growing problem in most developed countries and is responsible for a significant degree of morbidity and mortality in the world. This phenomenon, in last decade, widely spread especially in the United States of America, has recently affected western part of Europe as well. Obesity in adults has been an increasing problem for many years. However, there is a major and constantly rising problem of obesity in children too. One of the countries where the overweight issue, as far as the children are concerned, has reached the critical state is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The combination of a changes to eating habits and less active lifestyle are blamed of the rise of obesity. In the last few years the statistics of obese children tripled, which is a warning sign for parents, teachers and the government to take actions to reverse the rising tide of this so called ‘social disease’. Britain has an outstanding traditional food such as Yorkshire pudding, Lancashire Hotpot or fresh salmon from Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, currently it is difficult to find good British food as people simply eat it lesser and lesser. There is a great cultural diversity in the UK and that is why new cultural trends, including eating patterns spread to it and mixed. Local Indian and Chinese restaurants are more popular than traditional British ones. People in Britain are more likely to eat fast food or convenience meals, which are already cooked and all you have to do is just heat them up in microwave. It is very popular among children and teenagers. It is not time-consuming, easily accessible and ,what is more important, cheap. Due to that the problem of obesity, particularly in children will never be solved. The most commonly chosen by children products are: soft drinks, crisps, savoury snacks and pre-sugared breakfast cereals, for example the ‘Big Five’. Teenagers are also interested in pre-prepared foods, which are high in sugar, fats and salt. However, restaurants like McDonalds, KFC, Burger King are enjoying record popularity among young people. Talking about children eating habits we cannot omit factors which influence theirs food choices. According to the ‘Ofcom’ summary titled: ‘Children's food choices, parents' understanding and influence, and the role of food promotions. Executive Summary & Conclusions’ we can divide determinants into few categories: psychosocial, biological, family, behavioural factors, schools, commercial sites, consumerism and media. One of the most important factor is undoubtedly family. The way we are eating is highly determined by our parents and friends. Through the years their habits are becoming our habits. British people are believed to give relatively little attention to the quality of food. (O’Driscoll 185) Every tourist can notice it while being in the UK. ‘Young people and families with children who eat at fast food places are not interested in quality.’ (O’Driscoll 184) Rising incomes, longer working hours and more cash-rich parents tend to support a ‘convenience food culture’ and the consumption of HFSS foods . There is a decline on the number of occasions that family eats together. It is much easier to give children money and do not care about preparing nutritious meals. The ‘Ofcom’ research suggested that only a minority of parents seem to exercises effective control over their children’s food choices. What is more important, those parents are quite often found in the higher socio-economic groups. We may assume that difficult financial situation is an obstacle, which heighten rise in children obesity. Poorer people choose cheaper products of lower quality and greater amount of harmful, artificial preservatives....
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