Fostering: reflections on the risks of obesity

Fostering and the teenage experience
May 31, 2017
Fostering children means your fitness matters
June 2, 2017
Show all

Fostering: reflections on the risks of obesity

As all foster carers know, fostering children and young people requires the committed delivery of care on so many different fronts. The main requirement of a foster carer is to provide a stable, loving and safe environment for a child: there are always risks that have to be dealt with, for example, the issue of online safety and the risk of child sexual exploitation. Vigilance, and monitoring internet use will always be required from people fostering children.

There is now another significant risk factor for the well being of children for a foster carer to confront. The online world is heavily implicated, but in this particular instance, it is a significant contributing factor but not the whole cause. This is because children engaged in the online world, as opposed to the real world, are mostly physically inactive. A lack of exercise is now clearly linked to the alarming rise in obesity rates amongst the young. It’s a simple problem: excess body fat is accumulated when the energy got from food and drinks is greater than the rate at which it is used up by physical activity. A foster carer will know a young person leading a sedentary life whilst eating sugar rich foods in large quantities will become overweight. What is of huge concern now, are the numbers progressing beyond being overweight to becoming obese. The WHO (World Health Organisation) certainly regards childhood obesity as an issue that will impact on a global scale: the costs are already worrying – a report from last year highlighted that obesity was costing the United Kingdom nearly £47bn annually.

Obesity now has the second-largest economic impact on this country after smoking cigarettes. Obesity has been responsible for a loss of 3% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Approximately 2.1 billion people – nearly 30% of the world’s population are overweight or obese. And this is going to rise to around 50% of the total global adult population by 2030. In the UK, around 1million school children are monitored by the NCMP (National Child Measurement Programme). Their figures now show that for the year 2014/15, 19.1% of Year 6 children – 10-11 years – were obese with a further 14.2% being considered overweight. Then 9.1% of Reception children – 4-5 years – were obese with a further 12.8% regarded overweight.

A major worry for anyone fostering is that poor diet can become established carrying forward into adult life. Any person with a responsibility for fostering children needs to be aware of what is literally an epidemic of obesity.

Whatever the age of the child or young person you are fostering, encouraging good dietary habits is essential. Considering that a third of 10 – 11 year olds and over a fifth of 4 – 5 year old children were revealed in the NCMP report to be overweight or obese, makes this all the more important. This alarming statistic should be of concern to all the fostering organisations as the promotion of a healthy lifestyle has to be a shared aim.

Lifestyle choices are hugely important: an unhealthy diet together with a lack of exercise are the major risk factors resulting in diabetes and cardiovascular disease – plus other related health problems. If you are fostering take note: The Department of Health advises that children aged over 5 should be engaging in moderate to vigorous activity for a minimum of 1 hour every day. And if you are fostering, you should aim to maintain a good level of personal fitness. For adults, the advice is to engage in 2.5 hours of moderately intense aerobic activity every single week.

At Rainbow fostering – as providers of independent foster care services – we strive to provide guidance around the issue of diet and nutrition. We always encourage healthy eating practices with a diet that is high in fibre, rich in fruit, whole-grain, lower-fat, and lean meat and fish. That part of a fostering allowance managed by a foster carer used for food should be used to provide healthy eating options – which can be expensive. Children and young people do need occasional treats, but such treats can also form part of an active day where extra calories are burnt up. We would like to hear from anyone fostering who has views on diet and nutrition. If you are a foster carer with views on this subject we would be happy to hear them.

Our ‘Rainbow Rewards’ bonus scheme: something to consider if you are fostering.
We are continually seeking people interested in fostering: we pay a bonus of £500, if you are fostering and in a position to refer someone to become a carer: after their first placement – following your original referral – we will pay the money. And if you are already fostering with a long term placement, we’ll simplify your transfer to Rainbow. Once fostering with us, you will be eligible for a bonus.

Rainbow – we are always happy to answer your fostering inquiries.
Rainbow gives information about all aspects of fostering. Our team is regularly asked for information about things such as – foster carer pay, fostering requirements uk, how long does it take to become a foster carer and how much are foster carers paid. We can advise on these and a range of other foster care topics. Just give us a call on 020 8427 3355.

The latest fostering news is out!
The Rainbow ‘Read All About It’ news section on our website is always worth a visit for anyone in fostering: keep ‘up to speed’ with the issues! Simply visit

Fostering and nutrition

Fostering and dietary awareness

Our latest headline: ‘Scottish independent Care Review draws a response’ – an important fostering story.

And the good news at the end of this Rainbow…we shall be putting together some healthy recipes on our Facebook page to enjoy over what we hope will be a long hot summer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *