Childhood obesity has become a big worry not just in the United States but also here in the U.K. Many campaigns have been launched to try and tackle the problem; the Let’s move! campaign as endorsed by Michelle Obama and the change4life that we have here in the U.K. Both of these schemes focus on the premise that obesity (or, on the other side of the equation, being slim and fit) is solely caused by too many calories going in and not enough going out. As we are constantly telling our personal training clients you can’t deny the laws of physics; if energy out is more than energy in there will be a defecit, so there will be loss of fat.
Unfortunately the problem in our modern society is slightly more complex when it comes to children. The energy in energy out approach is convenient as it does not demonize any of the food industry, but it fails to understand the role of insulin in the regulation of fat accumulation. As insulin levels go up in the blood stream so does the amount of fat that we store. Insulin is triggered by foods high in sugar (or with a high G.I.) just like the processed carbohydrates that are in many popular children’s snacks. Thus the more refined and easily digestible the carbohydrates – think fizzy drinks, bagged snacks, ready meals etc – the more insulin is produced. So to tackle child obesity we have to demonize the industries that produce these foods. Big food companies will not like it, but just as drink driving and smoking have become (read “been made”) socially unacceptable it must be achievable to do the same to the high G.I. industry too.