Globesity — United Kingdom

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Yesterday, Childhood Obesity News talked about obesity around the world. Dr. Pretlow once said:

Poor lifestyle choices is commonly touted as the reason for the obesity epidemic. Yet, obesity is rapidly becoming a worldwide epidemic as countries adopt a western diet and import western products. Why is obesity spreading at an alarming rate globally? It doesn’t make sense that it is as simple as the spreading of the adoption of poor lifestyle choices.

Everywhere, the answers to those questions are being sought. In the United Kingdom, which encompasses England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, 64% of adults are classified as overweight or obese. Three areas of north-west London have childhood obesity rates that are among the highest in England. The National Child Measurement Programme found that among 10- and 11-year-olds, 39.8% of the children were overweight or obese in Brent, and 39.4% in Westminster and Hounslow.

Why? The apparent answers are: portion sizes, deprivation, fast food, busy parents, and a sedentary lifestyle. Buyana Ailoo, leader of the Healthy Weight Team in Hounslow, remarked that parents tend not to see obesity as an urgent problem. In London, which is now home to so many immigrants, cultural expectations are different. Especially in the lower economic strata, many parents with fat babies and chubby kids feel blessed. When childhood obesity reduction is the goal, this is a difficult mindset to work around.

In Blackpool, an oceanside city in northwest England, the suppliers and vendors of school uniforms have a story to tell. (Unlike their American counterparts, many British public schools require that kids from age 4 to 16 wear uniforms.) The wholesalers and retailers have dropped the word “average” from their vocabulary.

In a country where the average grown woman takes a size 16 (about the equivalent of a U.S. size 14), one shop had to order a size 24 skirt for a girl in secondary school. The story doesn’t specify how many inches around the waist a size 24 is, or whether it is more or less than the waist size reported by another shopkeeper who supplied a skirt with a 36” waist. A third vendor reported taking an order for a blazer with a 48” chest for a secondary school student and one with a 38” chest for a younger child. Those are a lot of inches for any kid.

Dr. Arif Rajpura, director of public health in Blackpool, would like to see the government do something about fast food establishments, as well as the low price and easy availability of sugar-sweetened beverages. He is quoted:

‘Obesity is a national problem, and unless we do something here and now our future generations are going to have poor health. These issues start in childhood, and to see excess weight from reception class onwards is a worry.’

The picture on this page shows a typical full English breakfast, as served in Paddington.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Child obesity in north-west London among worst in England,”, 12/16/13
Source: “Supersize kids sees uniform sizes expand,”, 09/16/14
Image by Christian Kadluba

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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