A celebrity personal trainer says letting a child become overweight is essentially a form of abuse.
Nick Mitchell, the founder of global gym company Ultimate Performance, said it’s no different from letting your child smoke or take drugs.
His thoughts preceded National Childhood Obesity Week, which runs from July 4-10.
Mr Mitchell believes cheap junk food and a screen-obsessed ‘Youtube generation’ have led to epidemic levels of obese children.
Former city lawyer Mr Mitchell, who trained Hollywood actor Glen Powell for Top Gun: Maverick, said childhood obesity was “like watching a car crash in slow motion”.
He said cheap junk food and children spending hours staring at screens on devices rather than playing outside have created a “perfect storm” that is giving them the “worst possible start in life”.
Mr Mitchell said: ‘It’s a hugely complex subject, but I think we should have zero tolerance for childhood obesity. I view childhood obesity as a version of child abuse.
“We live in what is called a ‘snowflake’ generation.
“Everyone wants to be super awake and signal virtue. And we now have a screaming minority on platforms like Twitter where they celebrate victimization. So no one wants to call him.
“But, basically, if your child is obese and you don’t do anything about it, how is that different from seeing your child smoking cigarettes and doing nothing about it?”
Speaking to parents, Yorkshire-born entrepreneur Mr Mitchell said: ‘If you allowed your 12-year-old to smoke cigarettes it would be considered child abuse.
“If your 12-year-old drank six cans of beer every night, that would be considered child abuse, the authorities would intervene.”
He added on Twitter that childhood obesity should be seen as “a child who gets high or drunk”.
Government figures reveal that 27% of children in reception (4-5 years) are overweight or obese.
This figure rises to 41% among 10-11 year olds – and the problem is getting worse.
People are so afraid to tell the truth about childhood obesity because they are afraid to offend.
Forecasts from the Local Government Association (LGA) suggest the government will miss its target of halving childhood obesity by 2030 without further urgent action.
Obese children are more likely to suffer from serious diseases such as type 2 diabetes, asthma, precocious puberty, eating disorders and liver disease.
The number of children seen by the NHS for problems such as sleep apnea, acid reflux and diabetes linked to fatty food teasing has risen dramatically.
Those who were overweight as children are more likely to be overweight in adulthood, when the risks of problems such as heart disease and stroke kick in.
The government is keen to tackle obesity, unveiling a strategy in the summer of 2020.
He said the Covid pandemic was a wake-up call for Britons to be healthier and fitter.
Children in 11 areas of England have been targeted for extra help moving the books – Barking and Dagenham, Brent, Enfield, Hounslow and Waltham Forest, Birmingham, Liverpool, Bradford, Tameside, Sandwell and Kingston Upon Hull.
Mr Mitchell called on the government to consider subsidies for healthier food, higher taxes on junk food and an overhaul of physical education in schools.
He added: “No one wants to offend. 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 triggers, should there be a trigger warning when you see an obese child on TV? Because that child is sick.
“People are so afraid to tell the truth about childhood obesity because they’re afraid to offend.”