Childhood obesity is increasing in Ontario and this has caused concern amongst governments, communities, and families. For kids, obesity can also lead to a lifetime of poor health but by tackling childhood obesity now we can lead kids toward a healthy adulthood.
- 26 percent of children and adolescents aged 2-17 are overweight or obese
- Over the past 25 years the rate of young people aged 12-17 who are overweight doubled, while the obesity rate tripled
- Adolescent boys are more likely to be overweight or obese (34 percent) compared with girls (23 percent)
- It is estimated that if the current childhood obesity rates persist, children will live three to four years less than today’s adults due to obesity.
Children who are obese during adolescence are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, and have higher rates of type 2 diabetes, stress, and asthma. These risks and health conditions continue into adulthood: obese adolescents are more likely to be obese as adults and face greater risks for heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, some cancers, and depression.
But not all children are affected equally by the burden of obesity and poor health. Children in families that do not have adequate resources are more likely to be obese and face a greater burden of ill health than children who grow up in families that are better off.
Contributors to poor health include poverty, a lack of safe and affordable housing, inadequate access to good food, being socially marginalized, and faring poorly in a range of other determinants of health. While these determinants affect everybody, children are particularly negatively impacted.
This new paper by the Wellesley Institute, prepared for the Ontario Healthy Kids Panel, sets out strategies to reduce childhood obesity in Ontario and its associated health problems by taking a health equity and social determinants of health approach.
We will be blogging about key elements of our paper over the coming weeks, including how we can reduce childhood obesity and health inequities by reducing poverty, focusing on early childhood development, addressing neighbourhood factors, and enhancing government coordination.
We can’t afford to saddle children with a lifetime of poor health that is caused by inequities that can, and must, be fixed.