Minds are not the only thing expanding at elementary schools across the UK. It would appear that waistlines are also being stretched within the education system.
According to new statistics published by Cancer Research UK, 57,100 students who begin primary school each year at a healthy weight are obese or overweight by the time they finish. That's not counting the one-fifth of children who are already overweight when they begin elementary school. All in all, by the group's estimation, one in three students enter high school overweight.
But the problem isn't necessarily in the school lunches; it's in overall diet and exercise habits, as well as access to unhealthy foods at home, too. Cancer Research UK converted a London storefront into a very real-looking "XL School Uniforms" shop with mannequins of overweight children to "show the new norm of larger school uniforms" as a form of protesting government inaction in the face of a mounting problem.
"The Government has reneged on its commitment to publish a robust strategy to tackle the crisis of children's obesity," Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK's director of prevention, said in a press statement. "Encouraging exercise and a sugar tax alone won't curb the rise of ill health which could cost the NHS billions. Commitments to protect children from junk food marketing and mandatory targets to reduce the amount of fat, sugar, and salt in food are also vital."
More specifically, Cancer Research UK is calling on the British government to ban junk food ads during kids' television shows. "It will take more than encouraging exercise and a sugar tax to tackle the obesity epidemic," Cox said, adding that, "it's time to close the loophole during family viewing time."