Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Child and Teen Obesity in Malta

This morning, I had to go to the St James Hospital. While I was there, there was a small card which captured my attention. It said: "Malta places first in child and teen obesity." There were also some statistics available:

Wales: 21.2%
USA: 25.1%
Malta: 25.4%

The above percentages "refer to the countries with the highest prevalence of overweight youth aged 10-16 according to Janssen et al."

Compared to adults, it is often assumed that children and teenagers should be fitter since they spend more time playing games like soccer and running around. Perhaps soccer and other sports activities were more popular when I was a kid. Nowadays, with Internet, the countless Playstation games, cable TV, and other similar ways to spend one's leisure time, children and teenagers are able to gain more weight as they do very little exercise.

Obesity during one's childhood and teenage years is unhealthy. Yet, there is another particularly worrying aspect to it - the psychological problems that can develop as a result of this condition. In a culture which strongly favours slim - almost anorexic - individuals, obese people are likely to suffer from discrimination and other negative social treatment.

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