“Is your address making you fat?” This article will help you in understanding an unusual link between your neighbourhood and your child’s weight problems. Many researchers have been studying this unusual link and have come to a tentative conclusion that surroundings of a child’s house might be responsible for obesity.

Recent research from the University of East Anglia’s (UEA) Norwich Medical School, and the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) has found that Children living in areas close to fast food outlets are more likely to be overweight or obese. The residential localities of nearly a million children were taken into consideration and compared. Outlets serving unhealthy food such as chips, burger, pizzas, and sweets had more overweight children living around them. 

Obesity has been linked to several serious medical conditions, including:

• Cardiovascular problems. 

• High blood pressure.

• Diabetes.

• Cancer.

• Gallbladder disease and gallstones.

• Osteoarthritis.

• Gout.

• Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea (when a person stops breathing for a short episodes during sleep) and asthma. 

• Low self-esteem

• Depression

The relevance of studies like this emphasizes the severity of obesity epidemic spreading among children in industrialized countries and the need to take action. “Public health policies to reduce obesity in children should incorporate strategies to prevent high concentrations of fast food and other unhealthy food outlets”Public health policies should now acknowledge that steps must be taken to reduce childhood obesity by factoring in environment as well. It is one thing to promote healthy dietary choices and physical activity and exercise, but giving children convenient and unhealthy options that are conveniently accessible seems to be a counterintuitive measure in the struggle to tackle the problem as a whole.

Here are some ways suggested that parents can adopt to tackle the problem of childhood obesity and prevent children from above mentioned health risks:

• Ensure children get a good night’s sleep

• Reduce sedentary behaviour and screen time

• Encourage physical activity.

• Encourage positive family mealtimes 

• Ensure portion sizes are controlled

• Increase acceptance of healthy foods – including fruits and vegetables.

• Reduce availability and accessibility of calorie dense foods in the home

• Reduce consumption of sweet drinks and increase the consumption of water