Public Health Issue: Childhood Obesity
Anna Walker, the Healthcare Commission Chief Executive explained that "Childhood obesity is a serious health problem that can follow people much later into life. It is a causal factor in a number of chronic diseases and conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes” (Audit Commission 2006). The World Health Organisation, describes obesity as having “reached global epidemic proportions, with more than 1.6 billion adults overweight, at least 400 million of those clinically obese” (WHO 2005). In England, the Department of Health (DH), states that almost “1 in 4 adults are currently obese and projects that 9 in 10 adults ...view middle of the document...
Obesity can be determined by an individual’s BMI, which compares weight and height. In children different cut off points have to be used to define overweight and obese children and BMI should be expressed as a percentile in relation to age and sex (Post 2003).
Childhood obesity is a public health issue and Ewles and Summit (2003) describe public health as a focus on health and disease within a whole population. Epidemiology is important within public health as it is the study of how often disease, in this case obesity, occurs within different groups of people and why. Coggon et al (1993) explains that the information derived from the study of epidemiology is used to plan and evaluate strategies to prevent illness and as a guide to the management of patients in whom diseases has already developed. It also allows government funding to be utilised and allocated appropriately and effectively.
The statistics shown have been obtained from the Health Survey for England (HSE) report, and focuses on all children rather than sex as increase is similar. It will show how prevalence of overweight and obese children between 1995 and 2003 has changed over time, this is important and Graig and Lindsay (2000) explain, prevalence is used to measure the burden of chronic disease.
Between 1995 and 2003 the levels of obesity in boys rose by 5.3% and girls rose by 2.2%, for overweight boys this shows an increase of 7.1% and for girls 3%. The increase in obesity between 1995 and 2003 consisted of increases in all four age groups considered, namely 2-3, 4-5, 6-7 and 8-10. However, obesity increased by 5.3%, within 1995-2003 in children aged 8-10 this showed the largest increase and compared with the lowest increase in children aged 2-3 with an increase of 1.8%. The increase in obesity among 8-10 year olds was significant, but there were no significant increases for the other age groups. The report showed the North East and London as had the highest prevalence levels in England, with at least 18% of children aged 2-10 classified as obese in 2001-2002, with the lowest level, less than 11.9%, in Yorkshire and Humberside.
The prevalence of obesity was higher in families living in the inner cities and 1 in 5 classified as obese. There was also a clear correlation between obesity and deprivation, which takes into account eight factors including income, employment, health, disability, education, skills and training, housing and access to services. The prevalence of obesity among children and area deprivation showed levels of obesity increased 5.2% for those in the least deprived areas to 16.4% for those in the most deprived. The prevalence of obesity tended to increase as area deprivation increased, however no significant differences between those in the middle were found. This links with childhood obesity prevalence and household income, which increases from 13.3% and 12.5% in the two highest incomes compared to 16.3% and 15.8% in the two lowest...