12% of 12-year-olds overweight, poorer children most at risk: CBS
Some 12% of Dutch children aged between two and 12 are too heavy and 3% are officially obese, latest figures from statistics agency CBS have shown.
The figures are based on an analysis of data collected between 2018 and 2021 for the annual CBS health survey Lifestyle Monitor.
The children of parents with a lower level of education were twice as likely to be overweight and children whose parents are overweight are also at risk of becoming too heavy, the CBS said.
Being overweight leads to a greater risk of diabetes and heart disease and measures must be taken to encourage teens and their parents to keep healthy, experts say,
‘Studies have shown that overweight children already have weight related illnesses, even at a young age,’ endocrinologist Erica van den Akker told the Telegraaf. ‘So not only are they more at risk of developing weight related problems later, they are also facing them in the short term.’
However, Van den Akker said, tackling obesity in teens is complex because genetic factors play a role, as well as hormonal influences in puberty.
Environmental factors are crucial, she said. ‘Much depends on parents’ knowledge of how to live healthily but also their level of income. Cheap food is less expensive than healthier options and some families just don’t have the money to spare for sports clubs memberships.’
Schools too, have a responsibility, Van den Akker said, and could do more to encourage healthy eating in the school canteens.
If tackled early enough most of the effects associated with childhood obesity can be reversed, Van den Akker said. ‘Obesity is an illness, so the longer you are ill the more difficult is becomes to get well. Overweight children who get the right coaching often achieve good and lasting results.’
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