to ask what can or should be done about childhood obesity?

(323 Posts)
Bakingtins Wed 07-Aug-13 13:31:06

Prompted by this article of which I think the worst bit is not the headline grabbing 24 stone 10 yr old, but the figure that 20% of children are now obese. It's something that I have increasingly noticed at my son's swimming lessons (and those are the kids whose parents do take them swimming) and at school.
Current weighing kids at school and 5-a-day, change-4-life campaigns don't seem to be working. What do you think the government, parenting organisations, the BBC etc. could or should be doing to reverse the trend?

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 15:54:01

Although I agree that some fruits are expensive their are some which are affordable, and a lot of places have offers on them now. Fruit vouchers are available to people on certain benefits and low income with under 5s - I think that scheme needs to be extended to more people and older children.

Frozen fruit is also available cheaply which is a good way of doing berries. Not as tasty but an ok alternative!

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 15:57:47

TalkinPeace I just said GP as that's my word for Doctor. here's a link It seems to be NYC where it's happening.

sydlexic Wed 07-Aug-13 15:59:31

Maybe consider portion control. I remember as a child getting a portion of chips meant a little grease proof bag with at most 4 Oz's of chips. I have just been to visit MIL and went to the chip shop. One portion weighed 3.5lbs and fed four people with some left. That is ridiculous.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 15:59:32

MrsPratchet not really I suppose. It's just very frustrating. I see a lot of enormously overweight kids in my job and it's extremely sad to see.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 16:01:15

NeoMaxi
THe actual details of the scheme are
^The Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Program (FVRx) is a nationally-recognized program by Wholesome Wave under which a doctor and nutritionist assess the health and nutritional habits of patients and families at risk for obesity and give patients “prescriptions” to consume more fruits and vegetables. FVRx patients at the two hospitals will then receive Health Bucks, which are coupons from the Human Resources Administration and the Health Department that can be redeemed for fruit and vegetables at all New York City farmers markets.

Patients return to the hospital monthly to meet with their doctor, renew their fruit and vegetable prescriptions, have their weight and body mass index (BMI) evaluated, and receive nutritional counseling leading to self-management goals for healthy eating. Each hospital will attempt to enroll up to 70 patients who will remain in the program for at least four months. Patients in the program receive Health Bucks in the amount of one dollar per day for themselves and their family members, so a patient with a family of four would receive $28 worth of Health Bucks per week.
This new public-private partnership with HHC has been made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund.^

Not quite what your post implied .....

Me too Neo. I Googled DD's stats because people kept telling me she is 'skinny'. Nope. Pretty much bang on the exact centre of a healthy BMI. I think we don't know what a healthy child or a healthy portion looks like any more.

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 16:02:53

I think portion control is a good point. Especially when we eat out. The size of portions for children's meals is rediculous is some places and then you see parents coaxing children to finish it all. On that note though more places are starting to do an under 5s and an under 12s kids menu which is much better.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 16:04:47

Talkin hmm whatever...

Portions should be taught like DNephew's school does. There are as much as you like foods (broccoli), portioned 'everyday' foods (pasta), sometimes food (chocolate) and never food (turkey twizzlers). <Disclaimer: these are neither the food examples not the words they used>

I have badly paraphrased but the intent is there. Hungry? Fill up on veg. There are carrot sticks, apples, peppers and tomatoes in the fridge. Only hungry for chocolate? Well, you're not really hungry. Maybe a square after dinner.

It's not laziness.

In fact scientists are surprised we're all not much fatter than we are given the bombarding of messages from
big sugar and big corn syrup.

The vast majority of people try their best, no ones deliberately poisoning their children.

Big sugar lobbies and influences governments.

We shouldn't be eating the vast majority of cereals for breakfast (a big lobby group, lots of advertising ) we should be eating eggs.

jjuice Wed 07-Aug-13 16:14:45

When my ds left primary school he was measured and weighed. Shortly after I received a snotty letter telling me he was overweight. He already ate healthy meals and whilst enjoying sweets etc would always pick berries if given choice. He did sports 3 times a week outside school.
Over the following few months he grew a few inches and is a skinny tall teenager now. I didn't change his food or increase his exercise.

AWimbaWay Wed 07-Aug-13 16:16:19

I agree with portion control. My dcs have a few friends who are a little overweight. When they come for dinner I am astounded at how much they eat, from the second they walk in the door it's can I have a biscuit? Can I have a banana? Can I have another biscuit? Then I'm left feeling I haven't cooked enough food when they clear their plates and ask for seconds at meal time. I was embarrassed when at my dd1s birthday party a child responded to her mother asking if she'd had a god time "yes but I'm still hungry, their was hardly any food" I thought I'd provided plenty but these children were obviously just used to much larger portions, they were eating three times what my dcs could manage. Made me feel really stingy!

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 16:17:15

That's a good way of explaining it to childen mrsterrypratchett. It is hard to find a good balance when teaching children, you don't want them eating too much crap but at the same time you don't want them to think they can never have chocolate.

AWimbaWay Wed 07-Aug-13 16:18:08

*good
*there

orangeandemons Wed 07-Aug-13 16:25:46

Hmm sizing... I used to be a pattern cutter, I think the sizing has changed, but not for vanity. In the 70s waistbands sat directly on the waist, ie the slimmest part. Now waistbands sit mainly below the waist, so no longer at the slimmest part and some sit nearly on the hips, so will be much wider. Not sure that that study factored in the change in fashion silhouettes. Also not sure that a 14 is overweight. I think it depends on your height. I'm 5ft 8. When I'm at my mid bmi I'm a 14. High bmi am a 16, and very low a 12. Even when I was under my bmi I wasn't a 10

xuntitledx Wed 07-Aug-13 16:28:17

Not to sound harsh but often when you see an overweight child, they are usually accompanied by an overweight parent or guardian - this isn't a coincidence.

Portion control is so important, I started putting on weight when I left home and I soon realised that the portions I was doling out were much too big for what I actually needed. Coming from a generation that was forced to sit and clean your plate, I continued to do so but eating half as much again as I should have been.

I now weigh everything out before I cook it and only give the correct portions for both adults and children - I also cook everything from scratch which I think makes a difference.

One observation though, given the increase in popularity in cooking - particularly worldwide cuisine, I often wonder if this contributes. For example, when I was growing up my mother wouldn't have cooked with cream or butter where as at least one of those is present in every dish that I cook! Just a thought...

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 16:32:28

orangesandlemons
Go to a vintage clothes shop : try on 1950's dresses.
I'm a modern size 8
A 1970's size 10/12
and a 1950's size 12
I still have some 30 year old pieces of clothing that I can fit back into and they do NOT say "8"

NB the lower boundary for healthy BMI is now 18.5 so "mid BMI" is 21.75
and for all Asians, "mid BMI" is 21

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 16:33:29

xuntitled
when I was growing up my mother wouldn't have cooked with cream or butter
presumably not Northern European then as they were staples of 1950's to 1970's cookery

tumbletumble Wed 07-Aug-13 16:35:40

Sorry, I haven't read the whole thread so I'm not sure if someone has already made this point.

I think the problem begins with newborns. I know lots of people who felt worried because their babies were falling below the percentiles in the red book, eg my DS1 who dropped from the 75th percentile at birth to the 25th percentile at 3 months. He was feeding well (EBF) and perfectly healthy, but I was made to feel that I was not feeding him enough. I chose not to top up with formula, but I know several mums who did.

Now, I'm not in any way suggesting that topping up at this age leads to weight problems later on, but I do think that it puts parents in the mindset of wanting their babies to gain weight and not worrying too much whether their diet is healthy as long as they manage to get some food into them. This behaviour can then continue into childhood and beyond.

So my solution is - ditch the percentile charts for babies!

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 16:38:49

Not to sound harsh but often when you see an overweight child, they are usually accompanied by an overweight parent or guardian - this isn't a coincidence.

I don't think it is harsh, it does show why the problem is mounting from one generation to the next though. It is a vicious cycle and one that is hard to break.

I have always been very careful with what I feed DS and he does have a healthy diet and active lifestyle (he is 3.8) BUT I was starting to notice that my eating habits were rubbing off on him more and more. I am overweight/obese but that was the biggest trigger for me to change and realise that in order to keep up the heathly lifestyle DS has I needed to change mine. it hasn't been easy to do but I have now lost 2 stone with another 2-3 to go to be at an ideal weight but the benefits are already showing

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 16:41:48

Well done Sirzy you are on track to bring him up with healthy habits.

xuntitledx Wed 07-Aug-13 17:06:20

Talkinpeace - when I think back to my childhood meals, the menu would look similar to this:

Frying steak, chips and boiled veg (where as now I might have fillet steak, dauphenois potatoes and creamed spinach)
Tuna pasta - just tuna and pasta, no mayo (now I'd put mayo in with this and sometimes cheese)
Homemade pie and mash (my mash today is made with butter and cream whereas I believe my mother just used milk)
Roast dinner with lots of veg and only one kind of potato (I would have mash potato AND roast potatoes and scrap the veg completely blush)

That's just an example but my versions of the same dishes are much more calorific than I would have eaten as a child but I do think it stems from a love of cooking and cooking shows when everything is caked in butter and cream because we know how good it makes things taste!

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 17:11:51

What about puddings and breakfasts?
Yup, you are turning your meals into calorific bombs, probably well over your TDEE per day
I eat like that 2 days a week only, fast 2 days and am careful on three
the kids do not fast but seem to cope with the other 5

orangeandemons Wed 07-Aug-13 17:23:14

But 50's dresses were designed to be worn over corsets, and were made just after the war when everybody was still slim from all the rationing. They aren't really indicative of what a real person was like.

Don't know about the 70s perhaps they are just small sidings. There was an overhaul of the whole measurement system in 2006, as clothes were considered not indicative of today's measurements. They were based on the above mentioned post war measurements. However the advent of the pill and better nutrition means people are bigger, but not always fatter. People are much much taller than they were a couple of generations ago. As people get taller, they tend to take bigger sizes, not related to fat, but bone density and bone mass. So this may be the vanity sizing, but it wasn't vanity that drove it, it was because people no longer fitted the old measurements, but it wasn't because of obesity

Fizzy drinks - there is increasing research suggesting they affect metabolism. The bigger kids I know are always drinking fizzy drinks.

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