Obesity could kill chances of sporting success by 2012

Article date: 22 May 2003

With obesity a growing concern among health professionals acrossthe country, the results of a survey by Norwich Union announcedtoday, show that many parents are still in denial about the impactof obesity on their own children.

Published statistics show that over 30 per cent of children inthe UK are overweight and almost 12 per cent can be classified asobese. Yet the Norwich Union survey shows that just 14 per cent ofparents view their own children as overweight.

According to Barbie Clarke, director of Kids and Youth, thespecialist research firm that conducted the survey for NorwichUnion: “This shows that parents are still in complete denialabout obesity and its impact on their offspring. It is clear fromNorwich Union’s investigation that parents are only beginningto recognise that their children are overweight by the time theyhave already joined the ranks of the obese.

“Over the past ten years, while children, on average, areconsuming fewer calories in their food, levels of exercise havedecreased even faster, leading to a dramatic rise in levels ofobesity among children.

“There is a long way to go in educating parents about therole of exercise and how they can encourage their children andothers to maintain a healthy level of activity in today’sincreasingly in-door in-car society,” he says.

“With just 14 per cent of parents judging their childrenoverweight, this means that parents are only acknowledging obesityas ‘overweight’. We are still way behind some of ourEuropean counterparts in recognising this issue,” headded.

“With Government estimates of more than £3.6 billion forthe cost of obesity by 2010 far outstripping the projected totalinvestment in sport, we will be spending more money on tacklingobesity and its associated problems than we will be investing inencouraging a healthy lifestyle and helping find a larger pool ofactive youngsters, from which our 2012 Olympic champions willcome,” said Dearbhla McCullough a sports psychologist fromRoehampton, University of Surrey.

“It seems that parents are so worried about eatingdisorders that were prevalent ten years ago, that the problem hasgone to the other extreme. We know that children are eating fewercalories than ever, so the answer lies in their levels ofinactivity.”

David Czerwinski, head of sponsorship for Norwich Union whocommissioned the research, concludes: “It’s clear thatparents need to take on the responsibility of encouraging theirkids to lead a more active lifestyle. There are plenty ofopportunities for them to do this even outside school hours in safeenvironments, and with UK Athletics’ grassroots athleticsschemes that run all year round such as Norwich Union star:track,kids can have the fun they crave as well as become fitter. We willalso be extending our pledge throughout this summer to facilitatesafe access to all manner of sporting and active opportunities forchildren.”


Press office contacts:

Stuart Wareman - Total Sponsorship - 020 7803 2306
Suzie Dias – Total Sponsorship - 020 7803 2416(suzie@totalsponsorship.com)
Louise Goffee - Norwich Union - 08703 66 68 70

Notes to editors

  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. It is aleading provider of life, pensions and investment products and oneof the leading IFA providers. IFAs provide around 70% of thecompany’s long- term savings business.
  • Norwich Union has strategic alliances with building societiesand other leading UK brand names including Tesco Personal Financeand The Royal Bank of Scotland Group.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available from Aviva's internet press centre atwww.aviva.com/media.

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