Many children are overweight: ‘Help shouldn’t just be limited to eating and exercising’

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In the Netherlands, more than one in eight children is overweight or obese. You would think that eating less and moving more is the solution. “It’s very easy to think about,” says health scientist Leandra Coetsier.

She tells that there are many reasons why children become overweight and why it is not so easy to eat less. “That’s why help shouldn’t just be about eating and exercising,” says Leandra, who last week received her PhD on the subject at VU University in Amsterdam. “It’s possible that there are all kinds of other things involved – like stress and not feeling well – that make it impossible to change behaviour.”

Around 340,000 Dutch children are overweight. Of these, about 80,000 children are obese or severely obese. “If you already had it as a child, it’s very difficult to get rid of,” she says.

Also read: ‘My daughter (10) is worried about her weight because of me’


According to him, there is too much focus on weight. “Of course there is a measure of health, but we look at it more broadly. For example, someone overweight who was previously obese and now feels great. That’s already a profit.”

“It’s mainly about the quality of life of the children and whether or not they participate in society,” she says. “It also affects how they feel about themselves. It’s hard to make healthy choices when you have other things on your mind.

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