Child obesity rates shoot up in Singapore
The proportion of overweight children in Singapore has shot up over the past four decades.
In 1976, 1.4 per cent of Primary 1 pupils were overweight or obese, as were 2.2 per cent of Primary 6 pupils.
By 2006, this had gone up to 12.7 per cent and 15.9 per cent respectively. Obesity rates among school-going children in general stood at 12 per cent in 2014.
This is in line with a major study published yesterday, which showed that the number of obese children and adolescents worldwide has jumped tenfold over the past 40 years.
The trend has prompted the authorities to introduce measures aimed at curbing the problem early.
Their most recent efforts include stricter nutritional requirements for meals served in school, and suggestions to get pre-schoolers more physically active.
But experts have said that more can be done to help keep children from packing on the pounds.
That includes getting parents to play a bigger role, even when their child is still in the womb.
"Maternal health during pregnancy lays an early foundation to the general health of the child," said Dr Yvonne Lim, a consultant at the National University Hospital's paediatric endocrinology division.
"Pregnant women should maintain a healthy lifestyle and healthy weight."
Parents have a major role to play and cannot just rely on school programmes to promote a healthy lifestyle, said chief dietitian Natalie Goh from Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital.
"If we do not do anything, there will be minimal change. Desirable habits can be inculcated," she said.
"Parents themselves can be important role models to their children - eating healthy, staying active together and limiting screen time or use of electronic gadgets that promotes inactivity."