While the tale of Hansel and Gretel – two children that manage to defeat a wicked witch that’s intent on getting them fat – is a nice enough story, in the real world this is a monster that is not so easily beaten.

In the US, about 35 percent of all children are obese, and this number is only expected to grow.

As our lives have grown more and more sedentary, it is causing diseases that have historically only affected adults to begin to become more prevalent in children.

This is resulting in children suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol levels far earlier than ever before.

The large majority (85 percent) of these obese children will never lose the weight, leading to increased incidences of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes, further on down the line.

Obesity has been shown to lower self-esteem and depression.

What this means is that our society is creating a generation who will enter their adult years not only suffering from chronic physical health diseases, but also labouring under a greater number of mental disorders as well.

While this may paint an extremely bleak picture, it is important to know that this problem can be surmounted, and lifestyle changes are the best way to achieve this.

If a child is brought up with an active lifestyle and taught to enjoy healthier foods, then these habits will stick with them.

Governments realise this and have already tried to step in. In 2010, Mexico banned junk food from being sold in its schools in a bid to lower children’s access to fattening food and drinks.

The UK, meanwhile, has proposed a reduction in the amount of sugar in soft drinks and chocolate bars.

However, in many of these cases, the government has been criticised for being too lenient or soft in its policies.

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Critics have claimed that the government does not have its citizens’ best interests at heart, and has instead been unduly influenced by food and beverage corporations, making too many rules “voluntary”, or “encouraged” without any real mandatory change.

Now, as always, parents are the last line of defence.

It falls to parents to safeguard the health of their children, and educate them on the dangers of junk food.

However, when the parents are often obese themselves, what hope can we have for the child?