The Way I See It #41 : By Darren Murphy

mid section view of a man sitting on a bench in a park --- Image by � Royalty-Free/Corbis
mid section view of a man sitting on a bench in a park --- Image by � Royalty-Free/Corbis

Hawick MSP John Lamont voiced his concerns this week at a report which showed a rise in the number of children starting primary school who are deemed to be overweight, obese or severely obese. The figures, compiled by IDS Scotland, revealed that 13.7 per cent of children measured in the NHS Borders region are overweight, while 5.9 per cent are obese.

It actually amazed me that a child just starting primary school could fall into the obese category. Obesity is defined as a child’s body mass index which is at or higher than 95, basically meaning that any child weighing 95 per cent more than other children of the same height, age and

gender is obese. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve read the reports and seen the headlines before, where we are labelled a nation of couch potatoes, all of whom are addicted to deep-fried mars bars etc etc. However, isn’t it alarming that any parent could let their otherwise healty child put on so much weight?

Having lounged into the comfy zone of a lengthy relationship I’ve gained a few extra pounds myself, you may even have seen me in a sweat-stained T-shirt lately trying to shift my beer belly. I’m not a five-year-old child, though, and it’s not anybody’s responsibility but mine to ensure I stay healthy and look after myself. Do you see where I’m coming from? No? Well I might as well spell it out.

Medical issues apart, if parents have let their child become obese, I honestly believe that they need to have a long hard look at their parenting techniques because they’re patently not working.

There’s also the myriad health risks associated with being overweight, even for the younger generation.

You may think I’m being a bit harsh on parents, the vast majority of whom do a great job, but it’s a fact that if they allow their children to become obese then they are at greater risk to illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure/cholesterol, liver and gallbladder disease. They may also have low self-esteem to contend with due to not being as mobile as kids the same age and unable to do as well in sports days etc.

I’m not a parent myself, so I suppose you could argue that I’ve no right to be this critical of mums and dads. But surely as parents it’s their job to not only be role models for their children but also to give them the best possible start in life?

Yes, families are busier and cooking fewer meals, preferring to eat out more. It’s also true that in these harsh economic times it’s easier on the purse strings to buy cheap high-calorie junk food. And kids aren’t as active as they once were, now preferring to play video games and watch DVDs.

I’m sure you can think of other reasons as to why a child becomes overweight, but the main issue lies with those responsible for their upbringing. After all, it’s their offspring they’re putting at risk.