Raising Awareness of Adolescents with Obesity

Before any body positivist goes up in arms, let’s address the elephant in the room: there is an increasing prevalence of adolescents with obesity in Singapore. Statistically, from 2017 to 2021, the proportion of students who were overweight (BMI-for-age at or above the 90th percentile) in schools (primary, secondary and pre-university levels) has increased from 13% to 16%! In 2021, the Weight Management Clinic at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) reported a 12% increase in such cases as compared to 2019, while the Division of Paediatric Endocrinology at National University Hospital (NUH) reported a 15% increase.

What is even more alarming is that such cases are often under-reported, and if left unchecked, adolescent obesity would lead to a myriad of health and psychological issues later in life.

Hence, Danish healthcare company Novo Nordisk has launched their Your Weight Can’t Wait campaign in Singapore to address this issue. Using a multi-pronged approach, the campaign aims to not only increase awareness regarding the dangers of obesity amongst adolescents and their caregivers, but to also encourage them to seek more information on obesity and management options while also addressing the stigma surrounding obesity that can be inherent in society (cue sigh of relief from parents and body positivists).

There will be collaborations with notable social media figures through the #ywcwchallenge, a physical challenge taking place on various social media platforms involving both strength and balance, where participants balance an apple on their head and perform 10 squats. The activity is supposed to remind everyone on the importance of keeping active, thereby raising awareness on obesity.

Novo Nordisk has presented an otter as the campaign’s mascot. Ottese, the otter, is an animal that is emblematic to Singapore, with its famously tight-knit families and the hope is that Ottese will remind all that adolescent obesity should not be an issue that is faced alone, but with the help of a strong and cohesive family unit.

Through this campaign, people with obesity and their families can learn more about the causes and consequences of obesity and find tools to help them to seek professional help to better manage this chronic disease.

While we at The Wellness Insider agree that obesity is on the rise and things need to be done to curb this disease, we wonder how much can really be done through this campaign that hasn’t been done by the Health Promotion Board for the past 30 years. As rightly pointed out, obesity can sometimes be a really complex problem and the root of the issue for each individual may differ. It might be our modern lifestyles, or caregivers not having the time to cook and hence relying on food delivery options or fast food, or due to hormones. Nonetheless, it is important to highlight the importance of a healthy diet together with keeping active while making it fun for adolescents without any body shaming.

To learn more about the campaign and the tools, please visit https://yourweightcantwait.sg/.

Image: Novo Nordisk

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