Who is to blame? Why are our children so overweight?


Keith here from Stone Free PT. I am a Level 3 qualified Personal trainer with my own home training Business and I am also a PT at Puregym in Billericay.

I am going to write a few articles on Health and fitness. Firstly, obesity in Children and adults.

So why are our children so overweight? And who is to blame? But then the next question should be as a parent, am I overweight too? When I was a young man I used to walk or cycle to school every day. At every break time we would play football in the playground, then I was active at PE and I played football after school and rugby after school and played in a Sunday league too. In the Summer I would play cricket or do athletics, competing in the Long jump, 400 meters and the Javelin. I was very active. At my school we had a total of 2 overweight children in my Year. The rest of us had zero fat. Yes but that was 40 years ago. But what has gone wrong? In my daughters year at school (she left last year) I would say at least 50% of the children were overweight with a large portion of these being obese.

Let’s talk about the reasons.

  1. Most children do not walk anywhere. They get dropped off at school, or get a bus to the school door. When they go and see their friends, we take them in the car and pick them up. I can understand why we do this because we are worried about them being harmed but this is the truth.
  2. The Children no longer “play” in the playground. They stand around looking at each other’s phones and chat. Nobody brings a ball because the teachers are frightened it might hit someone. We used to play with a tennis ball. Even today I can control a ball right away because I learned with such a small ball.
  3. PE at school is a joke. The children do not have facilities to have a shower after exercise so nobody wants to get sweaty! Is it so hard to work out that we need 45 minutes for exercise and 15 minutes for a shower? I know it’s hard for girls with long hair but at least they could wash their bodies. Give me a group of kids for 45 minutes and that is plenty of time to get them really hot and sweaty.
  4. As a child if I had a treat for doing well it would be a bag of sweets. About 200 calories with about 50% carbs. But now! Oh well done darling, you have done so well, let’s get a McDonalds/BK/KFC/Pizza (insert your treat of choice). So a Cheeseburger, Fries and coke and a Mcflurry! As an 11 YO child you should be eating about 1,600 calories per day. The McDonalds meal is about 1,400. So in one meal you have given them their calories for one day. Treat? More of a punishment really. But this is no longer a treat. Some kids are eating this 2-3 times a week!
  5. As a child I went everywhere on my bike. Now the way people drive it is so dangerous. Places like Basildon and Laindon in Essex have fantastic cycle pathways where you can go for miles but not all places are this enlightened. So we are missing out on this great exercise.
  6. The growth of home entertainments means you can spend all night watching a box set of a programme on TV. We don’t go out anymore. Computer games and mobile phones mean our children live their lives via their phones. They spend all day on them and all the conversations they have start with the phone. The only time I have ever seen my daughter distraught was when her phone packed up and she thought she had lost all her data (7gig of selfies) People come into the gym I work at holding phones with programmes that they have got off the internet. I have lost count of the number of times I have had to explain why the routine they are using is rubbish and in some cases dangerous.

So what are the solutions? If, as a parent you are overweight, start doing something about it by exercising regularly and modifying the food you eat to lose your excess fat. Encourage the children to join you in eating right and starting exercise. Get your bikes out the garage and take them over the park and ride around. Set up a race where the kids and you get to ride flat out and really get your heart rate up. Gather together as parents and kids and call at PT like me and we can go over the park and do a boot camp type exercise. Get 10 of you together and it would only be £3-£4 each. Start making your meals from scratch. Then you know exactly what you are eating, ready meals and microwave meals are full of junk and hidden calories. Even if it says it is a healthy option on the box. A chicken stir fry with rice takes about 15 minutes to prepare and cook. Encourage the children to help you make the food.

Make a treat something lighter in calories and especially sugar. Modify the food you eat so that every meal (and especially breakfast) includes a source a Protein, Carbohydrate and healthy fat. So a bowl of Shredded Wheat is not a proper breakfast. It is all sugar and will give you a sugar spike and leave you feeling hungry and wanting another sugar spike. My breakfast is a bowl of Porridge with some walnuts and two eggs scrambled with brown bread. I do not go hungry till lunchtime where I have a chicken breast with Brown rice and peas and broccoli. I then have some Salmon grilled with brown Pasta and green beans.

Get out the house and do something with the children. Go to the park and take a Frisbee and a ball and a picnic. Get a bike rack for the car and go and do some of the fantastic bike rides available in the UK. Do an exercise that gets you out of breath, not just walking. Try walking then fast running for 10 seconds. Come on start today. Get in the garden, take the kids put on some comfy training gear (and a training Bra for the ladies) and get training. First do a warm up by stretching your legs and your calves and do about 5 minutes walking getting faster with each minute. Then do the following, take a 30 second break between each exercise.

  • Running on the spot 40 seconds
  • Running on the spot with knees high 40 seconds
  • Squat from standing to low squat 40 seconds
  • Lunge for 40 seconds.
  • Crunch sit up (as many as you can do)
  • Lying flat, leg cycle 40 seconds
  • Skipping 40 seconds


For timing use My Sharona by the Knack as a start tempo. Use your phone as a timer and try and push yourself to make it to the end. Do this at least twice a week and try and push the tempo every couple of weeks. By winter you could be on the Ace of spades by Motorhead for the running and skipping. Never rush the squat and lunge and Ab exercises. Obviously if you have any medical issues consult a GP before you commence exercise.

Next time I will talk about diet modification and where Weightwatchers and Slimming World let you down.


Keith Davey  –  Wickford Essex.

[email protected]


07758 662581


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  1. I guess it depends what sort of age you’re talking about but I find with the children at my kid’s school (primary) they are actually all skinny little things and really quite active. Most walk to school, they don’t take phones in the playground, and they eat pretty well. I wonder how much this comes down to parents being educated about diet, fitness etc. and whether it varies from area to area.

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