October 23, 2014
A report published by the charity Vitamin D Mission earlier this week revealed that, alarmingly, the number of children with vitamin D deficiency has soared by more than 200% in the past five years, with 4,638 under-16s admitted to hospital with vitamin D deficiency and rickets. The cause of this has been attributed to the lack of awareness amongst parents of the importance of vitamin D in ensuring good health. We also heard this week that a similar lack of awareness amongst parents was said to be a contributory factor toward levels of childhood obesity, with some parents apparently oblivious to the fact that their children are overweight and unaware of the importance of encouraging their child to have a balanced diet and adequate exercise.
Upon reading these reports, your initial reaction may be similar to mine – how on earth could parents not realise something which, when set out so logically in a newspaper article, appears so obvious? But then, I would ask any of you to consider the last time you just stopped and thought about the need to take vitamin D supplements or – again, independent of the media’s influence – whether you are of a healthy weight?
The truth is, we all have busy lives. On top of that, many of us may live or have grown up in an environment where health issues such as being overweight are the norm. External guidance is important in helping to remind and educate us – and our families – about issues that may otherwise not cross our minds. Even simply raising awareness of what is a healthy weight or what vitamins children need when growing up can be very effective.
National Obesity Awareness Week (NOAW), which the Whitehouse Consultancy assists in running, had a huge impact in this, its first year, highlighting the gravity of the obesity epidemic which will escalate if we don’t do more to tackle how children and adult live increasingly unhealthy lives.
Moreover, the messages disseminated in dedicated awareness raising campaigns like NOAW can have multiple benefits; a greater uptake of physical activity among children would not only tackle obesity but also do much to ensure children are getting a greater amount of natural vitamin D from sunlight.
What is clear is that the lack of awareness around these and other public health issues appears to be the common theme underlying widespread incidences of poor public health. The important role of awareness raising campaigns in addressing this cannot be overstated.
The Whitehouse Consultancy is one of Europe’s leading public affairs and communications agencies, providing support to NOAW for the past few years. Its range of specialist services for the food sector can be found here.chriswhitehouse