In Britain today nearly one third of children between the ages of 2 to 15 are overweight or obese. Reducing obesity is crucial as not only does it double the risk of dying prematurely, but it also increases the risk of an adult getting Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and suffering from mental health conditions such as depression. 

Children from low income backgrounds are most affected and the obesity rates amongst children from deprived areas are much higher than the national average. By age 11 children from the poorest income groups are three times more likely to become obese than children from well off backgrounds.

Behaviour, environment, genetics and culture are all drivers of obesity. However, the main cause is energy imbalance, which simply means consuming energy through the food we eat then not using up any energy surplus to the body’s requirements through physical activity.

Breakfast is an important tool in tackling obesity. Children who consume a healthy breakfast in the morning are fuelled with the energy they need to start the day and research shows that they are then less likely to snack on unhealthy items throughout the day. Studies also show they are less likely to overeat at lunchtime.

It is important that children do not become fixated with their weight at a young age as this can have a detrimental effect on their long term health, rather it’s important that good habits such as eating a healthy breakfast every day, healthy snacking and portion size control are encouraged. This way over a measured period of time a child’s energy in and energy out will be in balance and a healthier weight can be achieved.  

Because of the complexities involved in tackling obesity it is very important that schools, local communities, parents and individuals work together to achieve long term and sustainable change.

The Government plans to reduce childhood obesity significantly within the next ten years and school breakfast clubs can contribute significantly in achieving improved health outcomes for all children.