Parents, step up obesity fight

I read Monday's report with concern ("Rising obesity among young set to worsen diabetes rate"). With the obesity problem in schoolchildren worsening each year, it is time for parents to take the issue more seriously.

Schools are already doing their part to address the problem. Schoolchildren now have access to healthier food choices and reduced-sugar drinks in school canteens. Overweight children are made to participate in weight-management programmes.

But there is a limit to how much the school alone can accomplish.

Parents are the ones who make the decisions about the food their children eat at home and the amount of time the family spends doing physical activities together.

I have noticed that at my children's school, students tend to gain weight after long school holidays. Admittedly, I am also guilty of allowing my two children to indulge in rich food during family vacations and turning a blind eye to their sedentary habits of spending more time on gadgets during school holidays.

Fortunately, my wife makes sure such "good times" for our children are often short-lived.

While the main concerns of obesity revolve around health consequences in the long run, the problem affects a child's social and psychological well-being in the short term.

Obese children are easy objects of mockery and discrimination, which fosters deterioration in their self-esteem.

As a result, they tend to develop a poor body image of themselves and avoid engaging in physical activities with their friends.

Children need all the help they can get from their parents.

Tan Whee Kiem

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Parents, step up obesity fight'. Print Edition | Subscribe