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Children Becoming Severely Obese

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According to data from Public Health England, “Ten times as many children are severely obese now as was the case thirty years ago” (The Telegraph, July 24, 2018). “In just ten years, the percentage of 11-year-olds with extreme weight problems has risen by more than a fifth”—that is more than 20 percent! One National Health Service (NHS) official warned, “The country’s growing obesity epidemic poses problems for the NHS but is also extremely worrying for the nation’s overall health as obesity in childhood paves the way to obesity in adulthood, and overweight or obese people are at greater risk of a number of cancers, heart attacks, type 2 diabetes and other illnesses.”

However, obesity is not just an English problem. According to a study published in The Lancet, May 29, 2013, nearly 30 percent of the world’s population—about 2 billion people—are obese or overweight (IHME). One major cause of obesity is the production, promotion, and abundant availability of junk food—high calorie, low nutrient foods that are pre-packaged for long shelf life, and fast foods that are high in unhealthy fats. One study noted that children who remember junk food ads are twice as likely to be obese—reinforcing how powerful advertising can be. Another factor that promotes obesity is our modern sedentary lifestyle—too much TV and other passive activities, and too little physical exercise.

The Bible outlines many principles that would keep us healthy and even prevent obesity if they were followed. For example, God’s word directly steers us away from consuming many fats that are still used in many kitchens (Leviticus 7:23). The Bible also warns against overeating (Proverbs 23:21)—behavior that also leads to obesity. God’s way of life is one of balance and moderation (Philippians 4:5, KJV) and it even provides guidelines for the type of food we eat. For more insight into biblical principles to prevent obesity in children and adults, read “Biblical Principles of Health.”