NHS England is concerned that modern children are growing up thinking obesity is ‘normal.’ Chief Executive Simon Stevens has expressed concerns over sedentary lifestyles contributing to worrying obesity and diabetes levels in children.


NHS England is also concerned that an increasing number of parents are failing to spot when their children are overweight.


“Junk food, sugary fizzy drinks and couch potato lifestyles are normalising obesity – and as parents, a third of us can’t now spot when our own child is seriously overweight.”

NHS Chief Executive


An international study has revealed that a large number of adults underestimate their own and their children’s weight. More than a third (36%) of UK adults thought they were overweight, when they were actually tested to be clinically obese. Additionally, research by the British Journal of General Practice found that a third of parents underestimated their child’s weight.


The new study also revealed that many are just not aware of the problem, and don’t realise that failure to spot the signs can contribute to child health problems like diabetes, heart problems and cancer both now and further down the line.


In order to address the problem, Simon Stevens is calling for a wide-ranging course of action, involving families, the government and health industry to take a holistic approach to combatting childhood obesity. This involves health professionals and parents working together to encourage a healthy lifestyle, and educating them on the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise routine.


Health problems associated with underage smoking, drinking and obesity currently cost the UK taxpayer £5 billion a year, and are putting a significant strain on NHS services. The new Conservative government has pledged £30 billion to filling the funding gap in the NHS by 2020, but this report and the words of Simon Stevens requires all of us to examine our lifestyles to ensure we are doing as much as we can in making positive, healthy and active lifestyle choices for our children and young people. The effects of this will enhance not only physical and mental health, but the sustainability of our health service too.


If you need advice on your child’s health, or are looking for ways that you can encourage a more active and healthy lifestyle for your children, visit NHS Choices for more information.