Gillian Prior, head of health at the National Centre for Social Research, is quoted as saying that three in every ten children are either overweight or obese. However, the results of an annual NHS survey found that the vast majority of parents of overweight children in the UK do not recognise the fact. Have high levels of obesity normalised unhealthy weights?
Perhaps, more to the point, why am I blogging about unhealthy weight in children here? Well, if parents are not noticing this problem in their children, are they also not noticing a similar trend in their pets? It would appear that the very same problem exists for much loved pets. Are we so used to seeing overweight pets that we do not recognise the problem unless the obesity is extreme? Now might be the best moment to stop reading and jot down what you think your pet weighs, and what you think is a healthy weight. Checking later might just be something of an ‘eye-opener’!
I’m one of those people, who once a question has formed in my mind, like to go rooting around to find research that either supports or refutes my opinion. It so happens that there has been a lot of research regarding just this topic. According to GfK, the market research company, 9 out of every 10 pet owners regard their pet as a family member or child substitute. Another market research company, Mintel, state that three quarters of pet owners in Germany say that they treat their pet just as they would a child. There are more pets in Japan now than there are children. One of the analysts working on the Mintel survey reported that, “Pets have become a substitute for human companionship. With pet humanisation on the rise, more consumers are demanding pet food that goes beyond providing adequate nutrition.”
Sean Wensley, vice president of the British Veterinary Association, welcomes the affection we shower on our pets but he also has to deal with the downside: “We are struggling with a pet obesity epidemic. It is leading to other problems — heart disease, arthritis, cancer.” A third of dogs and a quarter of cats in the UK are overweight, as people overfeed their pets and give them less exercise.
So, do you have that weight you hopefully jotted down earlier? Is there something about your best friend that you are just not seeing? If you are still not sure why not put your dogs details into this new Dog BMI calculator at http://petsci.co.uk/calculating-your-dogs-bmi/ I for one am definitely going to make sure I add exercise to treat giving and take a really good look at different dietary options for my four-legged family members. How about you?