Friday 19 January 2018

Obesity is a complex problem, Mr Myers

I WOULD agree with Kevin Myers (Irish Independent, April 19) that the discussion about childhood obesity deserves a level of frankness it doesn’t receive. Let’s accept that we are eating more and being less physically active than we were decades ago. Undoubtedly, this has contributed to the significant increase in the prevalence of obesity in children and adults.

The population is heavier because the environment has become more “obesogenic”. But why are some people more prone to the detrimental effects of that environment than others? The realisation is growing, at least in the scientific community, that obesity is a complex neurobehavioural disorder influenced by environmental and genetic factors.

Mr Myers’s solution to the problem would seem to be to choose your parents wisely. His assertion that “mothers are largely responsible for the obesity epidemic amongst our children” is like saying that the recession has been caused by people spending too much money on houses. In a sense it is true but it doesn’t do anything to help affected individuals. Factors as diverse as junk-food advertising and suboptimal town planning have contributed to childhood obesity.

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