The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health have done a survey which revealed that obesity in children based in Northern Ireland is increasing and needs to be addressed.
The survey found an increase in the numbers of overweight children who have been treated.
The results also indicated an increase in the numbers of young people who are suffering with mental health problems.
The organisation has made the decision to open an office in Belfast on Wednesday in a bid to try and improve children’s health.
The president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Dr Hilary Cass, said the problem will worsen unless it is addressed right now. She stated that unless this issue received immediate attention, unhealthy kids will become unhealthy adults suffering with kidney problems, heart disease and diabetes. She added that it not only makes moral sense to tackle the problem, but it makes economic sense to tackle it immediately.
Dr Cass stated that almost 20% of children in Northern Ireland are overweight or obese before they commence their school life. She has urged the public to opt for healthier choices and become aware of the importance of exercise.
She said that these choices are not easy to make because most people are leading sedentary lives and do not understand the correct food choices to make. She added that young parents, in particular, need support and help in how to make healthy choices, become more active and exercise more.
She further added that there was a connection between obesity and levels of income. She said that not only are there higher levels of obesity in those from deprived backgrounds, but this is levelling off in more affluent groups as well. It is becoming worse in more deprived groups and people in that income bracket should be offered support.
Dr Cass said that all groups should be targeted, but those from low-income groups should be offered support by clarifying that it is possible to obtain healthier foods with the budget that is available.
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