Conference to tackle childhood obesity

3 November 2010, 06:00 | Updated: 3 November 2010, 06:46

Over 100 health professionals are gathering at the University of Hertfordshire today (Wednesday November 3rd) to evaluate the programmes out there that are designed to tackle childhood obesity.

Dr Wendy Wills leads the University’s Weight and Obesity Research Group and is a key researcher in childhood obesity:

“We organised this conference because we want to bring together professionals from across the National Health Service (NHS) so that we can discuss different ways to evaluating childhood obesity programme to help decide which ones work best.

“Obesity is a challenging area within public health, and so much money is being invested in different interventions that it is important to have a joined-up approach.

“Our meeting provides an opportunity for key players to work together to find effective solutions.”

Dr Wills spoke to Heart about just how sever obesity amongst children in the country is:

“Currently in this country about one in ten children when they start school are already overweight or obese, and by the time children leave primary school it’s almost two in ten children that are overweight or obese.

So it’s obviously quite a problem, and obviously the earlier when we can tackle that in children’s lives, the better it is for them and their families.”

When asked why the levels of childhood obesity were so high in the country, Dr Wills told us it’s because of a combination of things:

“Access to a wide variety of food that’s very high in fat, salt and sugar on supermarket shelves and also in fast food restaurants – they are everywhere and it makes it particularly difficult for families to avoid that.

“It’s easy for us to sit down and watch the television for the evening and not be very active at all. And obviously that combines with if your watching TV, you could also be snacking on foods that aren’t very good for maintaining a health weight either. So there a whole environment conspiring against us really, making us eat more than we perhaps should.”