Obesity in children should be treated as a form of child abuse, the founder of a global gym business has said but Kent readers do not agree.
Nick Mitchell, who has overseen the weight loss journeys of more than 25,000 people across the globe, made the claim ahead of National Childhood Obesity Week, which starts on Monday.
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He believes cheap junk food and a screen-fixated “YouTube generation” has resulted in epidemic-levels of obese children.
The owner of Ultimate Performance Fitness, the former barrister – who personally trained Hollywood actor Glen Powell for his role alongside Tom Cruise in the blockbuster hit Top Gun: Maverick – said childhood obesity is “like watching a car crash in slow motion”.
He said: “It is a tremendously complex subject, but my view is that we should have zero tolerance for childhood obesity. I view childhood obesity as a version of child abuse.”
Around 40% of 10- to 11-year-olds will be obese or overweight by 2030 if trends in childhood obesity continued at their current rate, according to projections published recently by the Local Government Association (LGA), who represent councils in England and Wales responsible for public health.
Around a quarter of four to five-year-old children could be overweight or obese by 2030 and will mean the government will miss its target to halve childhood obesity by 2030 without further urgent action, according to LGA figures.
When asked if they agree with the fitness guru's claims, 51.5% of Kent readers said they did not and 48.5% said yes
Taking to the comments, Rachael Claire said: "No absolutely not. Parents need educating, they need accessibility to proper one in one support in person rather than all these stupid websites and apps you get directed to with everything.
"If they do not receive those then nothing will change. These parents do not know any better. Teach them, help them do not brand them abusers."
Mike Couchman agreed saying the word abuse implies intentionality which he believes is rarely the case.
He said: "Using the term 'negligence' by contrast means that child obesity can often be explained by obese parents simply no longer knowing what a normal child body shape should look like.
"Obese body shape has now become normative within certain disadvantaged, socio-economic, geographical settings."
'Teach them, help them do not brand them abusers...'
Sue Dixon from Sittingbourne said: "My daughter has had a weight issue since a baby, only now 25 years later have they found an illness causing it, so does that mean that for the last 25 years I would of been classed as a child abuser because it has taken this long to diagnose my child?
"Absolutely no they should not be blamed, but fresh fruit and vegetables should be available much cheaper."
But some said Mr Mitchell's theory rang true. Jen Frost said: "100% yes. Us as parents decide what our children eat, prepare their meals, choose how much exercise they are doing, put limits on how much time they sit on devices and tv, we are also role models, it is our duty to set excellent standards for diet, exercise and a positive attitude towards healthy living and lifestyle choices.
"Warn your children of the impacts of obesity and an unhealthy diet just as you would warn them of the impact of smoking."
Chantal Jackman echoed the statement, she said: "It is neglect, you are neglecting your duty as a parent to keep your child safe and healthy.
"The fact they have obesity clinics for children on the NHS should say it all. I think saying 'parents need support' is great but to say they do not understand is extremely patronising.
"We all know junk food is bad as much as we know tobacco is. We want to be nannied in everything and we should not be."
Another reader Shamus Fahy claimed children are just not getting enough exercise and said if they are overweight to "get them down the park".
He added: "People can make all the excuses in the would but at the end of the day a child’s energy levels are boundless when they are eating right and motivated enough."
Mr Mitchell has called for the Government to consider subsidies for healthier food, higher taxes on junk food and a revamp of physical education in schools.
National Childhood Obesity Week runs from July 4 to 10.
Do you think obesity in children should be considered abuse?