Obesity is a growing threat to health worldwide. It has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers, as well as causing several other health problems. It is estimated that obesity shortens life by 9 years on average.
In the UK the number of people who would be classified as overweight and obese has increased rapidly in the last couple of decades. Estimates vary, but between one third to a half of the adult population are overweight and one fifth obese. People of South Asian origin are particularly at risk from illnesses associated with obesity, especially heart disease and diabetes. Obesity in children is also more common in certain South Asian groups.
About half of obese children will become obese adults and overweight and obese children are likely to experience poor health related quality of life and low self esteem. Furthermore, we know that treating obesity is quite difficult, and even when successful, tends to be short lived. Prevention is therefore critical, and research suggests that prevention should start at an early age. The age of 5 to 7 is a particularly vulnerable period when problems with obesity may develop.
Unfortunately we have limited evidence of successful measures for preventing obesity in children, and existing research has not always been successful. It is recognised that there is a need for further research in this area and that local knowledge must be incorporated in developing any prevention measures. There are no previous studies that focus specifically on obesity prevention in South Asian children.