All carers know that fostering children means being aware of risks all the time. The main requirement that foster carers are asked to meet is to provide a stable and secure environment: there are always risks that can surface. Rightly there has been a focus on on-line safety and the risks of child sexual exploitation that may flow from unmonitored use of the web: clearly, vigilance will always be required in this area by people fostering children. Now another major risk factor to the well being of children and young people for a foster carer is in the news. The online world is heavily implicated, but in this particular instance, it is a significant contributing factor and not the sole cause. This is because children participating in the online world, as distinct from the real world are largely physically inactive – driving up obesity levels. The lack of exercise relates closely to the alarming rise in obesity among children and young people. Put very simply, excess body fat is accumulated when the energy gained from food is greater than the rate at which this energy is used up by physical activity.
If you are fostering children, encouraging exercise is very important.
What is now most concerning are the numbers now going beyond merely being overweight and becoming obese. The WHO (World Health Organisation) treats childhood obesity as an issue that will have effects on a global scale. The costs are breathtaking: a recent report found that obesity was costing the this country nearly £47bn annually. Obesity now has the second-largest economic impact on the UK after cigarette smoking. It has been responsible for a loss of 3% of GDP. Particularly alarming is the fact that roughly 2.1 billion people – approximately 30% of the world’s population – are overweight or obese. And by the year 2030, this figure is set to rise to nearly 50% of the world’s adult population. One million school children in the UK are now monitored by NCMP – National Child Measurement Programme. Figures produced by this organisation, show that for 2014/15, 19.1% of Year 6 children (10-11 years) were obese with a further 14.2% being overweight: 9.1% of Reception children (4-5 years) were defined as obese with a further 12.8% being overweight. What should be front of mind for anyone fostering children is that these results reflect behaviour that can easily become a pattern carrying forward into adulthood. Anyone who is fostering children or young people needs as a matter of priority, to be aware of this rapidly growing problem.
There are many types of fostering ranging from emergency, short term through to long term, but promoting the importance healthy eating for children is common to all. A third of 10 – 11 year olds; over a fifth of 4 – 5 year olds, were revealed in the results of the NCMP report to be overweight or obese. This worrying statistic should be noted by everyone fostering children as actively encouraging a healthy lifestyle must be made a priority. Lifestyle choices make all the difference: an unhealthy diet combined with a lack of exercise is a major risk factor which risks leading to diabetes and cardiovascular disease – along with other serious health problems. Foster carers should note that The Department of Health advises that children over 5 should be engaging in moderate to vigorous activity for at least 1 hour every day. To set a good example, A foster carer should also maintain their own personal fitness and encourage healthy eating choices. So for grown ups, the medical advice is that 2.5 hours of moderately intense aerobic activity should be taken every week.
There is no escaping the figures: Public Health England finds that the UK’s growing obesity crisis will result by 2030 in –
74% of men being overweight; 64% of women being overweight and 36% of men are predicted to be obese with 33% of women predicted to be obese.
19.1% of children in Year 6 (aged 10-11) are now obese with 14.2% being overweight.
Of all the children in Reception (aged 4-5), 9.1% are now obese with 12.8% are overweight.
All this means that a third of 10-11 year-olds and over a fifth of 4-5 year-olds are overweight or obese. Being overweight or obese is likely to result in diabetes.
The treatment for diabetes is becoming hugely expensive for the NHS
A few sobering facts: the cost of diabetes to the NHS is running at over 1.5 million pounds an hour – which equates to 10% of the of the overall NHS budget for England and Wales. This means that £25,000 is being spent on diabetes by the NHS every single minute. At present, around 14 billion pounds are spent annually treating diabetes. Where there are complications in individual cases, the additional costs rise sharply. By the year 2025, the prevalence of diabetes in the general population is estimated to be running at 4 million.
Considering fostering children – or young people? Then explore ‘Rainbow Rewards’
Rainbow is an independent fostering agency that currently pays a fostering bonus of £500 meaning that should you be in a position to refer someone to be a carer: you’ll receive this bonus once your referral has been approved (and the first placement has been accepted). People fostering children who, if they transfer to Rainbow, will also qualify for a special bonus, once they have been approved to foster with us: this will be a payment for foster carers who are already caring for youngsters on a long-term basis.
And the good news at the end of this particular rainbow…we are progressing well with the sound production facilities here at Rainbow: by early February, we are planning to be able to
get some of our children to begin developing their musical interests…with luck, we may find a future X Factor star!
More Fostering News – to keep you informed and up to date about fostering children
There’s always something of interest happening in the world of fostering. 2017 will be the year which will likely see changes following some of the measures and initiatives featured in past blogs. Catch up with our latest articles by visiting: http://bit.ly/2e8PrIK You could also help spread awareness of the need for more foster carers by liking some of our tweets on Twitter. We are currently working hard to promote literacy and there are some reading recommendations for children on our Facebook page – visit and scroll down: http://bit.ly/2csBXVd