Dalton: Obesity needs wider focus

The increasing child obesity problem in Cayman needs to be tackled with a different approach, says Dr Dalton Watler, Director of Sports.

He feels that by just making overweight and obese youngsters participate in sports and lead a more active lifestyle is not the complete solution because other health issues have to be considered too, like nicotine, sexual disease, drugs and alcohol.

Walter said: ‘What I’m saying is that obesity and being overweight is quite bad in Cayman. That is the truth, but in my opinion and through my research, the important issue is to look at the holistic development, which is the mind and body.

‘We are targeting obese and overweight kids simply because this is what we see, it’s tangible when we look at our children. You might find children who appear physically fit but they might do drugs, or alcohol or have a sexual illness.

‘So I think we should not say that being obese or overweight is bad. We have to say that we have to develop our children with healthy minds as well as bodies.’

Watler believes by targeting merely obese and overweight kids it is stigmatising them because slim kids might be taking illegal substances and be damaging their health long-term in other ways.

‘What we have to do is look for professional agencies that have institutionalised those principles.

‘Sports is one of those principles. For instance, people who throw the javelin, discus and shot putt, they are overweight. The sumo wrestler is obese, but that obesity doesn’t stop him having a healthy mind and being a healthy person.

‘Music is another outlet for a healthier child but it has to be combined with a physical activity.

‘Obesity is the look. People tend to associate it with cardiovascular illness. Being obese doesn’t mean you’re ill. Being obese at a particular point means to be islolated.

‘So my advice is that we have to look carefully on how we attack this problem. We need to look at obesity from every aspect. What sort of leisure activity do we want to put in place? And also physical activity and diet. We should also look at the family genetics and how it relates to each particular case of obesity.

‘My child, Dalton, is 17, he is technically overweight but that doesn’t mean he is unhealthy. What we need to do is to teach him how to improve his body weight so he is quicker and reacts faster in a football game. Being morbidly obese is an entirely different issue.’