Urban health problems bother the citizens of different countries a lot. People try to develop appropriate living conditions to decrease the level of harm. At the same time, some people demonstrate their careless attitudes to everything that is happening around. The citizens of London try to take active steps to solving the existing health issues and promote health to enable people to control and improve their own health. Urbanisation is one of the ways to facilitate the solution of health problems and sustain growth countries (Annez & Buckley 2009).
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Each UK ward may demonstrate various approaches to solve urban health issues regarding the current state of affairs. In this paper, one of the crucial risk factors, the spread of child obesity in Hendon, the 14th largest ward of London borough, Barnet, will be discussed as an opportunity to comprehend why this issue has to be solved, what background can be used, and what perspectives may be observed.
Description of the Urban Health Issue
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), child obesity is regarded as one of the crucial public health problems of the 21st century for the citizens of the United Kingdom (Public Health England 2016a). As soon as children face obesity problems, they put themselves under a threat of having numerous problems with health such as heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleeping disorders, etc. in a future.
The latest British statistics shows that about 20% of children between 10 and 11 are obese, and 14% of children of this group are overweight (Public Health England 2016a). One of the main challenges of obesity is the difficulty of treating this condition properly (Public Health England 2016b). Therefore, a number of preventive steps and interventions are taken to gain control over possible emotional and psychological outcomes. One more important point in regards to child obesity discussions is the direct blame of people for the development of this problem.
People have access to cheap and fast food that turns out to be highly palatable and energy-dense and lacks in nutritional value (Public Health England 2016c). Children do not understand how terrible the outcomes of their food choice can be, and parents are not always able to explain the importance of healthy food. With time, children start mentioning overweighing and cannot find the reasons of why their health is worsening. Besides, children, who suffer from obesity or overweighting, have a low self-esteem, poor relations with peers, and undergo numerous depressions and anxiety.
Child obesity is a health issue that also touches upon certain social, economic, and personal factors. Urban governance should take care of population characteristics to decrease the cases of child obesity by gaining control of food security and quality, improving healthcare services and emergency management, and promoting an appropriate social and economic environment. Obesity is also the outcome of poorly developed lifestyles. A little attention is paid to the promotion of healthy lifestyle and physical activities. Even if a neighbourhood supports the idea of a healthy life and underlines the importance of sport, other factors like rising costs and unemployment can be the reason for child obesity (Souter-Brown 2014).
Description of an Area
Hendon is one of the largest Barnet’s wards. It extends over an area of 2.8 square kilometres (Profile of Hendon ward 2013). Its population is around 16,800 citizens with 51% of female citizens and 49% of male citizens. As for the life expectancy indicators, males show 79.2, and females live 4.8 years longer (84.0).
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Though people from different age groups are observed in the ward, it is stated that there are more people aged 15-39. More than 45% of children are not White British and do not speak English as their first language. There are many Arabic, Hebrew, and Polish children, who share different cultural and religious interests. Despite pupils’ cultural variety, Hendon takes the third place in the rating among the students with the General Certificate of Secondary Education.
The theoretical evaluation and personal observations show that not many students have problems with obesity. Still, there are children with excess weight. For example, 19% of children between 10 and 11 years are obese, and 34.6% are with excess weight. Children between 4 and 5 years have lower numbers: only 7.4% are obese, and 15.4 have excess weight (Public Health England 2016c).
Child obesity is the chosen urban health issue that is going to be discussed among the citizens of Hendon. There are several reasons for why such choice is made. First, the citizens of this ward live under good conditions. They have an opportunity to work, study, and consider their personal interests. At the same time, they are challenged by a number of health issues, and child obesity is one of them. Child obesity is a problem that cannot be treated or solved. Still, there are several chances to overcome obesity among children or, at least, decrease the number of negative outcomes that can be observed among adults.
Child obesity may be predetermined by the style of life children prefer. Children study this world with the help of the material offered at schools, the facts found online or public discussions that occur in Hendon from time to time. There are several educational institutions available to all Hendon’s people. Hendon School is in the centre of the ward. St Mary’s and St John’s CE School is in the South-West region.
Brampton College is in the northern part of the ward. Students can also choose the Middlesex University to continue their education. Each of these institutions have special fields and training equipment to provide children with a number of physical exercises. At schools, children learn how to communicate, develop their preferences, and share their thoughts with other people. Still, not much attention and time is paid to the questions of appropriate feeding, and the harm children may get from food.
Besides, there are no special dietary centres in the ward where children and adults can learn how to avoid obesity at the early stage. Hendon has a local football club that proves that its citizens are fond of sport and know how to promote a healthy lifestyle. Still, there is no much motivation. People do not understand why they should better quit their habits and try to change their ordinary lives.
The lack of information about the healthy style of life is one of the main problems Hendon’s citizens face with. The investigations show that different industries have been already involved in the activities to prevent childhood obesity. For example, the food industry makes several attempts to chance the manufacturing and marketing of beverages and food that can be offered to children (Parker, Spear, Holovach, & Olson 2011).
Still, people do not have access to the programs and studies that can provide them with the necessary portion of information about child obesity, its symptoms, and prevention. Childhood obesity’s feature is the necessity of time for symptoms to appear and people start feeling uncomfortable (Birch, Parker, & Burns 2011). Hendon seems to be a poorly developed neighbourhood in terms of child obesity prevention.
On the other hand, the citizens do not take much care because not many children suffer from obesity. On the other hand, it is wrong to neglect the fact that parents have to cooperate with schools in order to create appropriate living conditions for their children. Hendon is a locally successful ward because not many fast food restaurants can be found there. People live in small houses and like walking through the park. They enjoy the forest-like nature of their ward and the possibility to use natural water resource that can be used in the south of the neighbourhood.
One of the main recommendations that can be given to the citizens of Hendon is to promote the development of a special centre where such urban health issue like child obesity, physical activities, and the solutions can be discussed and offered to the people in need. Children are not always able to ask for help in time. Parents are not always able to understand what may bother their children and address to school in time.
In their turn, school representatives do not want to develop the relations with parents in order to discuss such a narrow topic as childhood obesity. Due to such neglects, the question of child obesity may dramatically raise in Hendon in several years. It is recommended for schools to discuss obesity problems of children with their parents and control children’s styles of life at school and at home to deprive young members of a society of obesity, cancer, heart, etc. problems.
Finally, Hendon can hardly be called as the worst ward of Barnet; Barnet is a successful borough of London; and London is one of the most amazing cities in the world with the government taking care of its citizens. As soon as citizens identify the problem, it can be solved with the governmental help. Therefore, it is recommended to create a community that starts discussing the challenges of childhood obesity and the necessity to build more stadiums with free attendance so that children can visit them and parents can support their children in their intentions to keep fit.
In general, the problem of child obesity bothers many people around the whole world. There are many children, who are not satisfied with their health conditions and the presence of excess weight. Obesity turns out to be the reason of child depression, anxiety, and the inability to achieve personal and professional goals. Hendon is the ward that has not identified child obesity as the most important urban health issue for discussions. Still, the numbers prove that the citizens are almost ready to start taking some steps to change the situation. The only thing they need is a little bit of motivation that has to be offered through the creation of special dietary centres and the development of the relations between parents and school representatives.
Annez, PC & Buckley, RM 2009, ‘Urbanization and growth: setting the context’, in M Spence, PC Annez & RM Buckley (eds), Urbanization and growth, World Bank Publications, Washington, pp.1-46.
Birch, LL, Parker, L & Burns, A 2011, Early childhood obesity prevention policies, The National Academies Press, Washington.
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Parker, L, Spear, M, Holovach, NF & Olson, S 2011, Legal strategies in childhood obesity prevention: workshop summary, The National Academies Press, Washington.
Profile of Hendon ward 2013, Web.
Public health England 2016a, Child obesity, Web.
Public health England 2016b, Health risks, Web.
Public health England 2016c, Obesity data and tools, Web.
Souter-Brown, G 2014, Landscape and urban design for health and well-being: using healing, sensory, and therapeutic gardens, Routledge, New York.