Obesity in children should be treated as a form of child abuse, the founder of a global gym business has said.
Nick Mitchell, who has overseen the weight loss journeys of more than 25,000 people across the globe, made the claim ahead of National Childhood Obesity Week, which starts on Monday.
Mr Mitchell believes cheap junk food and a screen-fixated “Youtube generation” has resulted in epidemic-levels of obese children.
The owner of Ultimate Performance Fitness, former City barrister Mr Mitchell – who personally trained Hollywood actor Glen Powell for his role alongside Tom Cruise in the blockbuster hit Top Gun: Maverick – said childhood obesity is “like watching a car crash in slow motion”.
“It is a tremendously complex subject, but my view is that we should have zero tolerance for childhood obesity. I view childhood obesity as a version of child abuse.”
The Yorkshire-born entrepreneur quit the City in 2009 to start personal training business Ultimate Performance Fitness, the world’s only global personal training business.
His involvement in the health business, he says, has prompted his concern about the nation’s health.
Around 40% of 10 to 11-year-olds will be obese or overweight by 2030 if trends in childhood obesity continued at their current rate, according to projections published recently by the Local Government Association (LGA), who represent councils in England and Wales responsible for public health.
Around a quarter of four to five-year-old children could be overweight or obese by 2030 and will mean the Government will miss its target to halve childhood obesity by 2030 without further urgent action, according to LGA figures.
Mr Mitchell said: “We live in what’s called a ‘snowflake’ generation. Everyone wants to be uber-woke and virtue signal. And we have a shrill minority on platforms like Twitter where they celebrate victimhood. No-one wants to call this out.”
“But, at heart, if your child is obese and you are doing nothing about it, how is that any different from seeing your child smoke cigarettes and doing nothing about it?
“If you allowed your 12-year-old child to smoke cigarettes, that would be considered child abuse.”
Cheap junk food and children spending hours looking at screens on devices rather than playing outside has created a “perfect storm” that is giving them the “very worst possible start in life”, he claimed.
Mr Mitchell has called for the Government to consider subsidies for healthier food, higher taxes on junk food and a revamp of physical education in schools.
He added: “No-one wants to cause offence. But I’m afraid we need to have these difficult conversations.
“Netflix puts a trigger warning on its TV shows when people smoke. So, if smoking is triggering, should there be a trigger warning when you see an obese child on TV? Because that child is ill.
“People are so frightened to tell the truth about childhood obesity because they’re frightened of causing offence.”
National Childhood Obesity Week runs from July 4 to 10.