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?

ICBINEG Wed 07-Aug-13 13:36:51

I think the advice to not control your baby/toddler in their eating could be out there more. I only found it from a MNer.

No cajoling to eat more...not refusing them food when they are hungry and having lots of healthy snaking food around.

Same thing with exercise. Kids run A LOT. If you drag them to special classes they will develop resistance...

Kids need to develop normalcy around food and exercise...I am not sure that any amount of focus on the issue can actually do anything but make it worse.

My generation was made to 'eat everything put in front of you'. We were threatened with being served leftovers for breakfast and reminded about starving children in Africa. So how come childhood obesity is worse now, when we don't force small children to eat what we give them?

Squitten Wed 07-Aug-13 13:40:17

All you can do, short of making it somehow illegal and forcibly taking children away, is educate parents over and over and over. My family certainly have terrible notions about what constitutes a good diet and how much junk food is permissable and, worse than making children fat, it instills the bad habits that make it very difficult for them to lose weight as adults.

Government should also be supporting exercise by investing money in kids play areas, school exercise facilities, etc. Free leisure centre passes for kids perhaps. The other thing you can do (and I think the government should) is tax the hell out of sugary, fatty crap food.

Famzilla Wed 07-Aug-13 13:40:30

More cooking & nutrition lessons?

Some adults were raised on convenience food and have no concept of what a 'serving size' looks like. They have no idea what the rda of fat, carbs etc is.

IMO it was never necessary because junk food wasn't so cheaply and readily available. But now it is, I think schools should be teaching children the basic cooking skills which seem to have been lost through generations.

flatpackhamster Wed 07-Aug-13 13:42:55

Exercise, exercise, exercise.

Competitive sport has been removed from schools. Schools and local authorities have sold off their playing fields to build houses. Schools don't do anything energetic with children because the poor dears might get a scratch.

Get the kids out for an hour a day, even in the rain, doing some actual movement.

angelos02 Wed 07-Aug-13 13:44:47

Don't let kids sit at laptops/ipads for hours on end.

Torrorosso Wed 07-Aug-13 13:47:46

Tax sugar to the heavens and make unprocessed food cheap and available. Won't happen though because the government is in thrall to the food companies.

Processed, sugary food is almost impossible to avoid - that's the problem previous generations didn't face.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 07-Aug-13 13:48:33

Cut out all the low fat, diet, healthy for you but packed full of sugar, salt and other shit food that is marketed as good for you.
Feed your children good wholesome fruit, veg, meat and dairy. Avoid processed food.
Don't make food an issue. Put the food on the plate, and let them eat until they are full.
Ration computer games and TV watching and encourage sports and outdoor play.
Some things are easier than others sadly.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 07-Aug-13 13:49:14

P.S. Hi Tins. How are you doing? smile

UnevenTan Wed 07-Aug-13 13:50:38

I think ne major problem is people's perceptions. People think their child is a healthy weight, when in fact they are overweight and their bmi demonstrates it. They re in denial, just because we are so used to seeing overweight and obese kids.

Also portion sizes.and kids eating fast in front of telly will eat too much because they're brain won't tell them they're full fast enough.

There's no one answer really.

I'd like to try free breakfasts and cooked lunches meeting proper nutritional standards (I.e. not cereal, toast and jam) compulsory for all school-aged children. Too radical for this country, however. It would be expensive, it I bet it would be worth it.

UnevenTan Wed 07-Aug-13 13:52:33

Agree more exercises needed in schools. And stop sticking them in the hall with dvds for 'wet playtime', outside all weathers, just like nursery manage.

sandwichyear Wed 07-Aug-13 13:54:06

It would be useful to know more detailed info about the problem. Ie which 20% of kids? Is it poor urban kids, who don't have access to good shops/ transportation to get to good shops and little money to buy healthy foods? Is it rich kids sitting on their i-pads all day? rural kids? It's easy to lump 'kids' together and start making wide pronouncements about what should be done, but it's likely to be different reasons in different circumstances.

quoteunquote Wed 07-Aug-13 13:55:02

free swimming and climbing wall access everywhere for children.

Blissx Wed 07-Aug-13 14:06:33

WhereDoAllTheCalculatorsGo, in answer to your question, I would say 'Media' is the main difference between your childhood and now. Digital TV with 24 hour childrens channels, DVDs, Tablets, Smartphones, Computer Games (the Digital Nanny) plays a huge part in current childhood obesity. I see too many parents just hand over one of these devices when a child starts getting restless when this would be a great opportunity to do a physical activity instead.This coupled with the fact that is its not considered safe to have children playing outside by themselves and weight suddenly becomes a bigger issue. So although you may have had a high calorie diet as a child (if I read that right), you probably burnt off a lot of the energy and therefore, did not gain unnecessary weight. Not so the case of a lot of today's children.

It's all diet, apparently children are almost as active as 50 years ago (surprised me too)

Cheap sweets , no pound shops when I was young, cheap carbs - the cheapest food is processed.

Poverty - who wouldn't feed their kid a packet of custard creams when they're the same cost as an apple?

Reduce poverty, increase nutrition by having school breakfasts and lunches for everyone - accompanied with a massive campaign that the kids then only need a smaller meal in the evening.

And by breakfast and lunch I mean eggs, sausage, tomatoes for breakfast. Vegetables/salads/cheese/good bread/dessert for a big lunch.

Will cost a fortune but I would pay more tax for it. The longer hours in breakfast club/ after school club would help working parents

After school clubs to be karate, gymnastics, fun stuff.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 07-Aug-13 14:13:42

That definitely doesn't apply to my upbringing Laurie. We were out and active from the minute school threw out until bedtime. There aren't many kids that I know who live like that nowadays.
But then, I don't know the whole country's lifestyles.
I'm definitely a bit hmm though!

PrincessScrumpy Wed 07-Aug-13 14:17:31

Until having dtds and having top give up work money wasn't an issue so dd1 was very healthy but now money is tight I can buy a pack of biscuits for 30p which will last rather than 1apple which will be gone instantly so I do understand whyit's happening. My dc are still healthy but I think outdoor play and TV time is well balanced.
Imo the healthy eating lessons at school are rubbish. They teach dd that burgers are bad (even though I make ours from lean mince) and apples are good (even though if that was all you ate you wouldn't be healthy).
Lots of dds friends have crisps and kitcats in their lunch boxes but they were always teats when I was little, maybe once a week or at apicnic.
The healthy eating menu thing was a fab idea but someone new to cooking would have looked at the ingredients list and been scared off. Wrong audience completely.
I find kids cook books are fab fir quick and easy everyday meals so something more like that and easily available would be better.

jammiedonut Wed 07-Aug-13 14:20:40

Portion control, don't use food as reward and exercise! I childmind a few times a week, so many times I pick up my charges and find they're eating crisps at 8.30am! If they've been good, their parents buy them sweets as a 'well done' and I've seen adults serve children portions bigger than I'd give myself.
I too was taught to eat all the food on my plate, but was lucky enough that my mum had the time and money to cook from scratch and have fresh fruit/ vegetables to snack on. Unfortunately this isnt a possibility for many families. Also, mealtimes were not a debate, if I didn't like what was put in front of me I didn't eat!

It's a mixture of things imo and some things are hard to implement..

Some children are predisposed to not be physically active and may gain weight easily; I watched a Robert Winston show a few years back; some of the kids were fidgets, even watching telly they couldn't sit still and others were quite stationary, that must be a factor but how is this to be fixed?

Educate Parents who need educating - Have you read how much sugar is in absolutely everything these days so less processed food, again how do you advise and stop parents giving such food?

More PE on the curriculum but what do we remove from the timetable to make room for this? and not just the usual netball, football and rounders but hand ball, country dancing and dodge ball.

Yes to free swimming, when it was free here my ds's and their friends went every week and more in the holidays.

FourGates Wed 07-Aug-13 14:22:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Plus when we were younger we had no phones and no social network, to speak to a friend you had to walk/cycle to meet them, no worries these days.

I do fear that there is no going back from this crisis unfortunately.

FourGates Wed 07-Aug-13 14:25:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Viviennemary Wed 07-Aug-13 14:30:13

I agree that some children eat no more than their friends and are prone to being overweight. I think years ago a lot of children walked to school and now are driven there. Same with walking round to a friend's house. Excercise is the key not cutting down on food.

YouTheCat Wed 07-Aug-13 14:30:56

Thinking back to when I was a kid (70s), we would possibly get what is considered fast food (Wimpy/fish and chips) about once a month as a big treat. But I know kids now who will dig into takeaways/MacDs at least 2 or 3 times a week. That has got to have an impact.

And then what they get fed, all this processed junk, at other times is just packed with shite.

I don't think advertisers should be allowed to package something as a healthy food for kids when it is anything but and is packed full of sugar.

CMOTDibbler Wed 07-Aug-13 14:32:25

I think that a lot of parents are in denial about their childrens weight too - esp as children who are obese will be taller than their 'natural' height until they reach their adult height so its excused as 'oh, they're just tall'.

The one child amongst our friends who is obese (and she really is fat, and has been since a baby) has a mum who has struggled with her weight all her life and is a total emotional eater. So, she expresses love through food - baking, big dinners, sweets after any event etc. If mum is dieting, she pushes food on everyone else. And its a vicious circle - as the dd has got bigger, she's less able to keep up with the other children so does less.

They aren't poor, they aren't uneducated, they are in contact with the HV etc. But it would take a lot of intervention to deal with the deep seated issues around food.

Bumblequeen Wed 07-Aug-13 14:32:36

Limit time on laptops/I pads/computer games.

More time out in the garden/in the park.

I visited family recently during a nice summers day. All four children were sat behind a laptop and in front of the television all day. They barely spoke to anyone as they were so engrossed. When we sat to eat lunch, two bought their laptops to the dining table!

There is no way I would tolerate that in my home.

jenniferalisonphillipasue Wed 07-Aug-13 14:33:01

Education and agree with heaping tax on "junk food". This should then be used to subsidise good quality meat, fruit, veg and dairy. I hate the fact it costs me £3.15 to buy a box of plain shredded wheat yet Coco pops are always on offer and packaged so my children ask for them. It's all wrong.

Treaguez Wed 07-Aug-13 14:40:27

A special emergency tax on sugar and processed fruit.

"I would say 'Media' is the main difference between your childhood and now"

I would also say disposable income and consumerism.

I am in my 40's. I was dragged round the shops with my Mum, all day, yet was never bought anything to eat or drink, except a carton drink.

In my area, we had cake once a week, on a Sunday and sweets on a Friday, because they were so expensive. An ice-cream, from a van, was a treat.

It is the rise of pound and discount shops and us being brainwashed into thinking that consuming so much is normal.

The sweet shop is full of a morning and for some children, that constitutes breakfast. The same with the chip shop. We played out but wasn't given the money that kids are today, who, tend to buy crap.

In a way it spoils "treats" as even Easter eggs are no longer a treat and because they a pound each, it takes the pleasure away from buying them.

If the government won't control what goes into our food, then the only answer is to try to counter act the messages about buying crap food and cooking actual food, veg and carbs, with meat thrown in occasionally and in much smaller portions.

phantomnamechanger Wed 07-Aug-13 14:51:44

snacking, and the equating of giving kids a sugary treat with expressing love is a real problem

the number of parents at our very rural very M/C primary school who hand over a chocolate bar or bag of haribo every single day as soon as the kids come out of school is shocking - mine have sweets once a week, unless there's something exceptional. Coupled with chocolate biscuits AND crisps in their lunch every day and takeaway/junk food 3 times a week, because they are so busy and its easy, and the kids being driven everywhere, its not surprising obesity is a problem

I was of the spam fritter and chips for school dinner era - findus crispy pancakes and frozen chips and pies were my mums easy stand bys - we could never afford take aways - but the rest of the time we had homecooked food and lots of veg -

soups and stews, cottage pie, liver and onions, curries, roasts, chops, fresh trout - the majority of people just do not eat/know how to cook like that thesedays - or they eat like that themselves but give the kids nuggets and waffles earlier in the evening

greensmoothiegoddess Wed 07-Aug-13 15:14:35

As a teacher, I see the 'crisis' worsening on an ongoing basis.

What was considered 'fat' in our day (1970s and 80s) is now seen as 'normal'. In fact, I don't think I knew any overweight kids way back when. Yet it seems to be the norm now. Totally acceptable.

The solution has GOT to be at government level: tax tax tax the sugary and trans-fatty foods. Make it unaffordable!

As always, this issue will be shoved onto the schools at some point and into a massively overloaded curriculum. The curriculum is at breaking point to the extent that education is already spread too thinly.

And why oh why did they change Cookery into Food Technology back in the 90s? The focus became very much centred on packaging and basic science of food. They need to turn the focus back to nutrition.

phantomnamechanger Wed 07-Aug-13 15:18:15

in my day it was home economics, not cookery and certainly not food tech- we learnt how to prepare well balanced family meals from scratch and work out costings per portion etc. The only trouble was it was only the girlies who did this while boys got to play with hammers and nails, and make metal coat hooks etc!

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 15:20:30

Do not buy crap
Do not eat takeaways
Do not snack
Do not drink fizzy drinks more than three days a week

I look at the trolleys in my local supermarket and I can tell the BMI of the owner by the contents.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 15:24:17

Accept that a modern size 14 is overweight

Size ten trousers in 1970 had a 28 in waistband, now it is 32
EVERY person should be able to pull in their tummy till their bottom rib shows
EVERY person should be able to see the outline of the collar bone
its not "cuddly"
its FAT

TabithaStephens Wed 07-Aug-13 15:24:41

Parents need to stop mollycoddling their kids and feeding them junk to keep them quiet. During the summer holidays, give them a big breakfast and then kick them outside and tell them not to come back till teatime. Buy them bikes and outdoor things, not games consoles and Ipads.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 07-Aug-13 15:30:14

A large part of the problem is the marketing of unhealthy foods. The way supermarkets sell them and people being brainwashed. Supermarkets don't sell what people need. They sell what is cheap and what sells for a nice fat profit, and label it as a deal. There are miles and miles of shelves filled with bad food. How much actual room is taken up by dairy, meat, fish and veg? Maybe a tenth of the shelf space available?
Foods are packaged and marketed in a deceiving way. Adverts are worded to make the food sound healthy.
People have had the need to actually cook and prepare food removed. Everything is ready made, ready to cook, instant gratification. Nobody grows food. We all work so hard there isn't time to cook from scratch. IMO the weight problems of today are just a by product of todays life and media manipulation.

Jan49 Wed 07-Aug-13 15:32:49

I'm surrounded by neighbours who never leave the house except in a car. Yet we live in a big town, 20 minutes walk from shops and services. I never see anyone carry shopping home or walk a child anywhere. It seems like the only exercise some kids get is when they go somewhere specifically to exercise.

I think children are given a lot more sweets, chocolate, cake and icecream than they used to be. People's idea of the amount that is appropriate has changed. Kids seem to get a lot of food between meals too. Although children in the past were urged to eat everything on their plate, they weren't given meals between meals or lots of sweet treats. Previous generations have also sometimes liked to express their love through food just like some people now, but that meant a nice meal or dessert, not endless snacks and treats.

I don't know what the answer is - educating parents perhaps? My ds is an adult and when he was little I used to get criticised for not giving him sweets or fizzy drink and I was told that water was "too plain" and I couldn't possibly expect him to drink it. Parents overindulge their children in sweet treats and other parents are then encouraged to do the same.

I think there have been a few good changes. When my ds started school in the mid-90s, the kids took a midmorning snack and most of them took a packet of crisps for that. Now many schools expect kids to take fruit and are more strict about what is allowed. A nursery owner was rude to me because I said if my ds went there, I wouldn't want him to have biscuits - she said all the kids were given biscuits and he'd feel left out. She still runs the nursery but now they offer fruit not biscuits. But if the improvements only take place in nurseries and schools, that's only a small amount of the child's life compared to the time they spend with parents being given endless junk.

SinisterSal Wed 07-Aug-13 15:40:10

Size 10 is now a 32 inch waist? Not true. It's still 28.

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 15:43:52

It's such a complicated issue, I don't think there is a quick fix solution but we do need a massive change in attitudes and education.

- food tech classes at schools need to go back to basics teach children how to make a spag Bol, roast dinner etc every child should leave school with the skills to make basic, low cost meals which could feed a family. We have had a couple of generations of ready meals/nuggets and the likes which are fine in moderation but it is all some families eat and I do wonder if some families genuinely don't know how to change.

- stop companies like nestle (others are just as bad) from trying to sell their sugar laden cereals as healthy choices. Make it clear that your basically feeding your child a bowl of sugar.

- provide schools with funding so children have access to more variety of sports so they can find something they like. More after school sports clubs with different things. Then subside the groups doing them to make it more accessible.

- provide parents with more help/advice on what is best and somewhere to go to ask questions. It is so hard as a parent to get it right and sometimes it seems like there is different advice coming from every angle.

I do think society has to change its views though, a child being "a bit chubby" isn't ok yet that is looked on as being healthy whereas a child who's ribs you can see is seen as unhealthy when actually they are probably the healthier weight.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 15:44:36

Not at Sainsburys, M&S, Dorothy Perkins, Next and many, many other shops.
It may "say" 28 on it - but get the tape measure out ....

DD walks everywhere. She is 2. Everywhere I go I see children older than her and bigger than her in car seats and prams. Friends talk about how she can walk a long way and have since she was much smaller. I think we have forgotten everyday exercise. Need a pint of milk? Walk.

I do think poverty plays into bad diet. DD will eat any amount of fruit or veg. They are so expensive, though. Particularly when you want to buy a variety. Apples can be cheaper, but berries? Blimey the price. She also probably eats a lot of fruit and veg because she was offered it, played with it and it was thrown away when she was tiny. That would be heartbreaking if we were poor.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 15:49:05

Some GPs in America are now allowed to PRESCRIBE fruit! I thought this was a good thing and then I thought about the ramifications...if a parent fails to deliver the "medicine" then the child could be taken into care. Imagine that! Those of us with fussy eaters would be horrified.

However...I think the main cause of the issue is laziness. It's just lazy to buy shite processed foods and never ensure your children get excersise and in cases where DC are massively overweight, I think that the authorities should be allowed custody. Except where SN are those cases, parents should be given a LOT more support.

SinisterSal Wed 07-Aug-13 15:49:43

I have done - the size 10's I've bought lately after losing a bit of weight all correspond to my shiny new 28inch waist.

I haven't bought the brands you mention but I remember Next as coming up large for the size all right.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 15:50:04

America does not have General Practitioners.
Do you have a link for that story.

SinisterSal Wed 07-Aug-13 15:52:02

MrsTerry I think that is a really good point. If you have a fiver and a fiver only to feed the family you are going to make damn sure they eat every penny of that fiver. lentils etc is all very well but you can't give kids the space to develop the taste for things if you are budget conscious.

Neo you aren't really advocating putting children into care for being obese are you? Ironically some of the most overweight children I know have come out of the foster system. Foster parents aren't immune to 'food is love' messages.

x-posted. Yes Sal I think it must be tempting if you KNOW they will eat a pizza and know they probably won't eat a nut cutlet.

SinisterSal Wed 07-Aug-13 15:53:50

Not just lazy. If you are poor, working, loads of demands on yoir time, fussy kids, maybe someone in the family with SN that take up loads of time, it's easy to see how bad habits would creep in. And once you have a taste for junk it is really hard to reeducate your palate, not to mind childrens.

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

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


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

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

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.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 17:26:46

1930's or 1920's : average sizes were much much smaller around the waist hips and shoulders
and average heights have NOT gone up as much as average waists
just look at pictures of people on beaches and football terraces in the 60's and 70's

most modern people are FAT

Bakingtins Wed 07-Aug-13 17:31:18

One of the other things that got me thinking about it was this article in the Grauniad about the dangers of sugary drinks.

Also a conversation with a friend where someone else had commented on and worried her about how skinny her completely normal 6 yr old was - you can see a few ribs and shoulder blades but he is no way too thin. Perception of normal has been completely warped.

PaulSmenis Wed 07-Aug-13 17:40:41

I think portion size has a lot to do with it.

blondefriend Wed 07-Aug-13 17:49:30

- snacking
- portion size
- processed food
- cars rather than walking
- advertising and product placement

I know I am guilty of all of these at times in my house. Most are due to time issues and others due to SN/eating/allergies. I have recently read "French Kids eat Everything" and am trying to apply some of the rules. However it is difficult. One thing that would really help is decent school dinners. I would love for my kids to be given 1 cooked option for lunch with decent portion sizes and teachers/staff sitting and eating at the table with the children. Can see why it will never happen though. sad

PinkSippyCup Wed 07-Aug-13 17:52:58

I'm a new parent (DD is 9mo) and I have been amazed at the amount of junk people try and feed her!

I was made to feel like a horrible Mother because I wouldn't feed my baby cake at 10pm. She doesn't know what cake is, so how can it be 'mean' to not give it to her??

I think the whole food=love thing is a lot to do with it. It is a constant battle with family wanting to cram as much sugar and crap as they can down DD's throat. And as she gets older and actually wants these foods, it's only going to get worse.

soverylucky Wed 07-Aug-13 17:53:51

I think that it is the obvious things like they don't play out as much as they used to, processed foods etc
I also think snacking is a problem. People I know are obsessed with snacking. We go to the park for an hour or 40 minutes and the kids MUST have a snack. It is almost constant grazing. We have had threads about the supermarket and the need to occupy your dc with a snack, the baby food section of the supermarket is full of snack type foods. It just wasn't like this when we were kids. We got a snack perhaps mid morning and mid afternoon of a piece of fruit and an occasional treat was a biscuit or crisps.

PinkSippyCup Wed 07-Aug-13 17:54:49

Reading this thread it has made me see that me and DD need to walk more, rather than always using the car!

Bluelovesred Wed 07-Aug-13 18:04:32

I find this really hard at the moment with the news and constant research. My 3.5 year old DS is most probably obese even though he is off the charts at 112cm and has been since 5 months old. He has an insatiable appetite and no 'off switch' along with some extremely demanding behaviour which makes it hard to limit what he eats, although of course I do. No one who has not been in my position will understand the worry normal things such as parties, days out and holidays cause a parent such as I.

For the record I was an overweight child and have not been since 16. Both my DH and I have a BMI of around 21 and DS2 is small for his age.

I feel completely judged all the time even though the skinniest children I know seem to have the largest parents thus although skinny now, most probably an overweight adult.

Wishwehadgoneabroad Wed 07-Aug-13 18:07:40

Exercise exercise exercise

Plus, we've forgotten what kids are supposed to look like. It should be normal to see their ribs.

Bluelovesred Wed 07-Aug-13 18:13:56

Normal for many children, not others. It is easy to forget we all come in different shapes and sizes and believe our children should all fit some identikit mold.

let's not forget that eating disorders are on the rise and I infect suffered one due to the constant pressure as a child over my weight.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 18:17:08

sorry but you are wrong
having visible ribs should be normal for over 90% of children

when I was at primary school there were about three fat kids in the whole school (out of 150 : I have the photos)

at my secondary, two girls were "fat" (out of 60) - looking back at pictures of them they were slim compared to nowadays DDs friends
and the fatter one is a c list sleb and she's still large but not fat

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 18:17:36

It is also easy to pretend their is no problem when there is, so often even on threads on here you see parents upset at being told their child is overweight and then burying their head in the sand about the problem.

It's not about judging people, it's about concern for the health of future generations. There is a link between childhood obesity and later life health problems and obese it, of course not all overweight children become overweight adults but that doesn't mean the problem should be ignored.

Forming a good relationship with food and exercise early in life is vital for future health. It really is as simple as that, and if that means us as adults making changes to lifestyle to benefit our children in the long run then that is what we need to do.

FrancesDeLaTourCoughngIntoABin Wed 07-Aug-13 18:23:10

sandwich year@

"As in previous years, a strong positive relationship existed between deprivation
and obesity prevalence for children in each age group. The obesity prevalence
among Reception year children attending schools in areas in the least deprived
decile was 6.8% compared with 12.3% among those attending schools in areas
in the most deprived decile. Similarly, obesity prevalence among Year 6 children
attending schools in areas in the least deprived decile was 13.7% compared with
24.3% among those attending schools in areas in the most deprived decile."

From the NHS IC report on obesity in school-aged children

cory Wed 07-Aug-13 18:29:48

WhereDoAllTheCalculatorsGo Wed 07-Aug-13 13:40:14
"My generation was made to 'eat everything put in front of you'. We were threatened with being served leftovers for breakfast and reminded about starving children in Africa. So how come childhood obesity is worse now, when we don't force small children to eat what we give them?"

We were made to eat everything that was put before us at lunch- and then there was nothing more to eat until teatime.

Today's children (well, a lot of them) have constant access to unhealthy snacks: you see toddlers out in their buggies clutching large bags of crisps and a bottle of fizzy.

In the last decade that I have noticed that undergraduates increasingly expect to snack during lectures; nobody has informed them that the human frame is capable of coping for a few hours without sustenance.

Also school dinners help to spread the idea that chips and ready-made burgers/chicken nuggets etc are everyday food rather than (as in my childhood) party foods.

When I go to Sweden I read the school dinner menus for the local schools (published every week in the local paper) and every time I go through the same reaction: first I feel grumpy and hard done by that my kids can't get anything similar in their school and then I mutter to myself with a sigh "but you could never get the kids to eat it anyway". Their children are still expected to eat boiled spuds and raw carrots as a matter of course.

Bluelovesred Wed 07-Aug-13 18:31:23

Says who? You? research? really if your children are not overweight yet, you should really find something else to worry about.

I will reiterate, I was an overweight child subjected to repeated diets, restrictions on food and weighing regimes at school, I developed an eating disorder from which I thankfully recovered.

I am now at the slim end of my BMI naturally and and I'm guessing my son may turn out similarly.

At the other end of the spectrum, only around 10 to 20% of children in this country are obese but around 40 to 50% of adults are.

Most of the skinny children I see have overweight parents and this is a far greater indicator of adult propensity for obesity.

People are often gobsmacked that someone as slight as me should have such a large child along with a 25th centile one.

All I can say is we are all different and it is about time people stopped judging others on weight, I am fed up to the back teeth of saying yes my son is a giant, yes he is a big boy ad infinitum

hardboiledpossum Wed 07-Aug-13 18:33:04

Ban advertising for junk food, including the vast majority if breakfast cereals.

As long as the food is healthy there is no need for portion control or refusing snacks, infact t this will do more harm than good.

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 18:34:08

Blue love. You can argue it all you like but it is true you should be able to see the ribs on a healthy child. I have been told that by at least 3 different pediaricians!

amothersplaceisinthewrong Wed 07-Aug-13 18:37:56

Kids and adults need to eat less and move more. Smaller portions and more playing out and less computer games.

School dinners are not the problem - over the course of a year only 20% of meals are eaten at school. It's what goes on at home that counts.

We have made this whole food thing far too complicated with every study contradicting the last.

RobotHamster Wed 07-Aug-13 18:40:42

Get rid of crappy sugary carby nutritionally-devoid snacks. If they want sonething between meals, give them fruit.

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 18:41:33

Even if food is healthy you can eat to much of it, it still contains calories!

hardboiledpossum Wed 07-Aug-13 18:42:20

There is lots of research that has shown grazing is a much healthier way to eat. I would link but am on phone. I graze throughout the day and combine this with light meals. I snack on fruit or Vegs and humous or half an avocado or some nuts and seeds. I try to avoid cereal and only have small servings if carbs with my meals. I am a size 6. My larger friends seem to eat mountains of carbs but not much fat, they have reduced fat yogurt anew cheese and other such rubbish

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 18:45:08

Most people have 3 large meals and then snack constantly inbetween though which isn't a healthy way to eat no matter what you are eating.

If food is spread out through the day that is different and works better for some people. Constant snacking is different though and not a healthy way to eat.

cory Wed 07-Aug-13 18:45:10

I would say while school dinners are not the problem they are a problem- they normalise the everyday eating of junk food, and this comes from a place that young children are most likely to regard as an authority: they have been told that school knows best and that they are there to learn. I found it much harder to sell the idea of healthy eating versus party food once ds had found out what was on offer every day at school (but how can it be bad for you if the dinner ladies tell you to eat it?).

My SILs have been in a situation where their home take on healthy food is supported by the school and borne out by what the children actually experience on school premises. Lucky them!

hardboiledpossum Wed 07-Aug-13 18:45:19

Sirzy, children can self regulate so if offered healthy food will not over eat. Controlling portion size causes children to lose this ability.

HeySoulSister Wed 07-Aug-13 18:46:04

Agree snacking is an issue..... Can kids do anything these days without crappy snacks being obligatory? Cinema, bowling, a trip to the shops...

Then the 'snacks' themselves... Smoothies, cereal bars, cheestrings,lots of fruit.... Do people really think these are great?

Then there's the 'treat' culture.... Why are treats always crappy food?

And those who are calling for more exercise in schools! Really?? Have you seen the sorry excuses from parents here on MN on all the annual sports day threads?

No. Us parents need to promote activity and exercise. All my children see ME run/train/shred/walk/hike/cycle etc.... And join in. All these sports are family friendly. Something out there for everyone

HeySoulSister Wed 07-Aug-13 18:47:43

I also think packed lunches are a problem

Again cheestrings, white bread, kids yoghurts,

Do you honestly see a lot of overweight children? Either I live in skinnyville or I am walking around with my eyes closed. According to the data in the article 1 in 5 of the children in school with my DC should be obese, and I am pretty sure that they are not. Is there a particular demographic skewing these figures that I am not coming into contact with?

LotsOfNettleTea Wed 07-Aug-13 18:50:44

I agree that school 'healthy eating' education is rubbish, or at least can be. My 4 year old son told me that he had been taught that pizza is unhealthy. We make ours from scratch and use at least half wholemeal flour and make our own sauce. MUCH cheaper and definitely not unhealthy, especially when served with salad!

Babyroobs Wed 07-Aug-13 18:55:34

I think we need more exercise? PE in schools, more local swimming pools( our local one has just closed) and more heavily subsidized sports facilities for kids. Our nearest leisure centre cocts me about £16 for a family swim for one hour, roller disco costs us £25 for 2 hours. Surely not many families can afford that on a reguar basis. We walk as much as possible and I encourage cycling, but my 12 year ols son is still on the chubby side. My other kids are skinny and they don't eat any differently so I think there is clearly a genetic issue.

HeySoulSister Wed 07-Aug-13 18:55:40

jemima I think kids don't always look overweight but going by bmi they are.

I think kids don't always look overweight but going by bmi they are

But wouldn't a child with a high BMI look a lot larger than a child with a low BMI? An adult who is obese looks considerably different to an adult who is a healthy weight!

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 19:09:01

The problem comes with what we see as overweight though Jemima, I think we have got so used to seeing children with "a bit of puppy fat" that we no longer see children as being overweight unless they are very overweight.

HeySoulSister Wed 07-Aug-13 19:10:32

My friend got a letter from school screening to say her son was overweight. It upset her. He simply doesn't look it

I'm 6ft almost and recently lost weight. Nobody believes me when I give details as I am told I 'carry it well'

Think we have all become used to seeing obesity and don't see the truth, that's my theory anyway

HeySoulSister Wed 07-Aug-13 19:11:12

Cross posts sirzy

TheWickedBitchOfTheBest Wed 07-Aug-13 19:16:28

Back in the 60s and 70s children were raised to clear their plates, and eat everything up.

But back then children were much more physical. They were allowed to play outdoors much more and allowed to roam the surrounding areas and ride their bikes. They could play football at the local park all day if they wanted.

Convenience foods weren't as available and food generally was more expensive. Plus I think there was much more of a stigma to being overweight. Nowadays we have people like Beth Ditto 'celebrating her womanly curves with pride.'

She's just Type 2 Diabetes waiting to happen before she turns 40 and looks incredibly unhealthy.

Hmm, maybe...

But I am used to seeing the lower end of healthy weight children as two of my DC are on the 25th and 2nd percentiles (they are almost 11 and 7). Yes they are slim but they aren't that small in comparison with their friends, which surely they would be if 20% of their peers were obese?

Minifingers Wed 07-Aug-13 19:21:11

My 14 year old dd is obese. :-(

(Clinically - but if she didn't have 34G boobs her weight might come up as 'overweight' rather than 'obese').

I'm completely at a loss of what to do about it. She was a totally normal weight growing up as are my other younger dc's.

She loves healthy food but sadly, likes junk food and fizzy drinks more, and it's these which have piled the weight on her. I know the answer is to deprive her of pocket money/birthday money so she can't spend it on crap, but it's really hard o do this with a teenager. I CAN'T get her to exercise for love nor money........

UnevenTan Wed 07-Aug-13 19:28:59

Even paediatricians find to hard to eyeball overweight kids. It's one of the reasons they measure them and do the calculations.

Takver Wed 07-Aug-13 19:28:59

Jemimamuddledup "Do you honestly see a lot of overweight children? Either I live in skinnyville or I am walking around with my eyes closed."

You probably live in a relatively prosperous area. In dd's school year, there is one child I would say who is overweight, and she I know has health/sight problems. There's also a couple of boys who are rugby-playing-farmer shape ie solid but all muscle not fat, and that is it. Go 20 miles down the road to the much poorer county town, and you will see loads of overweight dc.

I have no idea what should be done about individual dc, but on a nation-wide level I suspect if you tackle poverty and inequality, you will see obesity levels fall.

soverylucky Wed 07-Aug-13 19:35:29

It is the type of snacks - children who are overweight aren't snacking on carrot sticks and seeds etc but crisps, biscuits, cheese strings etc

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 19:42:16

From what I have seen, it's processed food which is to blame. Sugar and corn syrup are terrible and people are woofing down food which is full of this. If people stuck to natural foods which have not been altered or added to in ANY way then there wouldn't be such issues.

Fresh meat, fish, veg, fruit, grains and pulses are all that we need. Even dairy is not strictly necessary...I understand that not everyone can breast feed...I couldn't...but once DC get older there is a big misunderstanding about where they can get calcium from...dairy is not the only source at all.

Dairy isn't great for us either when eaten in large quantities. Cakes and treats don't have to be very unhealthy either...better to make your own than eat the rubbish from supermarkets.

Sugar is horrendously addictive and the sugar substitutes are not doing us any favours either , it's eye opening checking the ingredient list and frightening how sugar mounts up.

To really get grip on this obesity epidemic will require millions of pounds to fund literature and publicity akin to the war on fags if you like.

Add in a row between government and teachers over how to fit physical activity into the .9-3 curriculum and it'll be years before something meaningful is committed to.

insanityscratching Wed 07-Aug-13 19:44:56

I can't imagine how a ten year old can be 24 stone tbh, dd is ten and is barely four stone, I can't imagine how even if a child was six inches taller they would have enough of a frame to carry 20 stone extra.I've no idea how you'd address this because it seems so far removed from reality to me.
Funnily enough contrary to recommended advice all mine were fed in a strict routine but none of them have ever been overweight and I have never banned any food. But I've never given snacks routinely and still they only eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and they don't eat sweets (three don't like them at all and the other two wouldn't spend their own money on them and I don't buy them to have in the house).
We try and eat together round the table most days, home cooked food mostly made from scratch like I was fed as a child really only I never comment on whether they have or haven't eaten much whereas as a child I would be expected to eat it all.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 19:45:17

Mini I really feel for you and DD. It's so hard with teens because they live in the present so much...when you're obese all your messages are mixed up with regards to food...low energy makes her think she wants crisps or fiz when in fact she doesn't.

In your shoes, I would consider drastic action such as a trip to somewhwere in the middle of nowhere....two weeks should do it...camping shops nearby and only healthy food to eat. Her stomach will shrink and she will re-train her brain to eat the right sorts of's not possible for everyone of course...2 weeks is a long time to go away and it's expensive...and then it might not work because she has to want to change too.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 19:46:39

Classy I agree...and pricing is all wrong. It should be VASTLY expensive to buy a pack of frozen eclairs or some processed pies...and massively cheap to buy fresh veg and fruit and fish.

Mini I'm sorry you and your dd are having a tough time.

It's breaking that sugar habit isn't it, it really is a shit addiction. I have it with ds1-18 , not with a weight issue but a skin one, he had awful spots and he won't give up the foods which hamper him.

It's a huge battle, I wish I could give you a good answer.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:12:30

There is lots of research that has shown grazing is a much healthier way to eat.
boy oh boy do I want to see the medically peer reviewed link for that ....

all I can suggest is that you and your DD start a challenge : see who can go for 5 hours between eating the most times (the fridge will tell the truth) in a week
as interestingly moving away from grazing / snacking makes your body use the calories much better
also ask her - even now - which slebs she wants to look like at 30 : as if she has fizzy drinks every day it ain't gonna be the skinny ones

(PS my profile pic shows what I look like at 48 and the other shows what I looked like at 33 .... it can be done)

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 20:18:32

Talkin Exactly...our dentist told us not to let the kids graze as it buggers up their teeth. However....a teenage girl going for 5 hours without eating is just an eating disorder waiting to happen. Silly idea that.

Me too Talkinpeace Grazing will surely wreck your insulin response.

UnevenTan Wed 07-Aug-13 20:18:43

Well done talkingpeace v inspirational smile.

Btw I have v slim children, who are extremely active and graze constantly, but eat relatively small main meals, don't drink anything except water and no crisps or biscuits at all at home, hate fizzy drinks. Snacks are nuts/fruit type things. I am trying to wean them off breakfast cereals and toast with jam/honey, and onto eggs or porridge. One is v resistant, but given that he's solid muscle with all ribs visible, I don't know whether to just leave him to it! I'm not convinced individual anecdotes about eating patterns tell us much.

5 hours is totally possible! 7:30am - 12:30pm 1pm - 6pm. Why is that seen as extreme?

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:25:47

a teenage girl going for 5 hours without eating is just an eating disorder waiting to happen
_utter bollocks - they do it every night.

insanityscratching Wed 07-Aug-13 20:28:48

Five hours is easily doable I think at home mine eat 7.30, 1pm, 6pm. At school they eat 7am, 12 noon, 5.30pm. They are offered fruit as snacks at school morning break which dd rarely takes at home I wouldn't offer a snack and they wouldn't ask much like they don't ask when they get home from school because they have always only eaten main meals even as pre schoolers.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:28:54


You feed them a good protein rich breakfast am 7am (before school)
eggs : milk : yoghurt : fruit : cereal
they eat lunch at school at around 12:30
sandwich : fruit : drink
they come home and have a pint of water
around 6:30 you feed them a big meal of meat / fish / pulses and carbs and veg followed by fruit based pudding

kids at private schools tend to have bigger lunches and smaller suppers

snacks are ONLY needed before 1hr+ of sport

loopydoo Wed 07-Aug-13 20:28:58

I actually think snacking is the main cause. Grazing all day, between meals is now the norm; brought in by the health visiting profession.

We were always starving and really ready for lunch and dinner and couldn't wait for my cereal and toast in the mornings. In autumn at school, they sold us an apple for a penny but other than that, we didn't have snacks at school either.

We weren't constipated like so many of today's children are either; this is because we ran around and were in the fresh air a lot more. I reckon kids of the 70s, 80s are actually quite healthy adults; before play stations and cbeebies on 24/7. Having only 4 tv channels meant we didn't have the choice of watching great stuff all the time, whenever we wanted. We had to play or be bored.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:30:29

as all of the people on the 5:2 threads will tell you, my motto is

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 20:34:35

Talkin they do it while they Sleep! Not in a deliberate and misguided effort to loose weight. The menu you describe doesn't leave any 5 hour gaps as far as I can see.

insanityscratching Wed 07-Aug-13 20:35:16

talkin that's pretty much how mine eat and when. I think your body gets used to eating at certain times and then doesn't crave snacks. It works for us anyway.

Minifingers Wed 07-Aug-13 20:36:38

She goes all day without eating, then spends her lunch money on fried chicken and a coke on the way home.

If I tell her to take a packed lunch she refuses and eats nothing until she gets home, then binges on cheese and toast. When we go to bed she gets up and makes herself microwave cake in the middle of the night.

She really is catastrophically lazy and greedy and attempts to make her change have caused so much grief I've sort of given up.

She's lying on the floor now demanding a kebab - complaint that the kedgeree I've made is disgusting. She's had crisps and a fizzy drink (at MIL's house) tonight.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:36:52

7am - 12.30pm = 5hrs 30 mins
12.30 - 6.30 = 6 hours
maths is clearly not your strong point
as 6.30 to 7am is also a 13 hour gap

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:39:27

then binges on cheese and toast. When we go to bed she gets up and makes herself microwave cake in the middle of the night.
what with if that food was not in the house?
She's lying on the floor now demanding a kebab - complaint that the kedgeree I've made is disgusting.
good oh, she can spend her pocket money on it and then its gone
you do restrict the amount of cash in the house don't you
(playing fair went out with the waistband)

mymatemax Wed 07-Aug-13 20:42:00

Hardly anyone walks to school, everyone drives everywhere. Kids spend too long in front of screens instead of walking to a friends house after Tea or meeting down the park.
So many smaller schools have closed meaning many more children ware bussed etc.
Shope weren't open all day every day
Parents cooked what was in the cupboard
Dessert was a treat after sunday lunch

As a society we are lazier and more static.
Too much convenience & crap food and too little exercise.

Its not rocket science just a change in attitude that's needed

BTW I don't practice what I preach

insanityscratching Wed 07-Aug-13 20:42:19

When did the idea of snacking start? My eldest is 26 and even though you were advised to wean at 4 months the aim was always three meals and a bottle before bed. I was never advised to offer a snack in between.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 20:42:40

12.30 to 6.30 without food is FAR too long Talkin. It's far better to have finished eating for the evening by 6.30 ish. We don't; need to eat while we sleep so I'm not sure why you're mentioning that.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 20:45:16

And Talkin what's more as a recovered Anorexic I think I know what I am talking about when I say that encouraging teens to starve for hours in order to lose weight and ESPECIALLY suggesting that Mini makes a competition out of it is beyond is asking a 14 year old which "sleb" she wants to look like. Really awful advice

HeySoulSister Wed 07-Aug-13 20:46:56

I can remember my excitement when aged 7 in 1975 my mother ( pregnant at the time) cut an apple in half and we shared it.... We were somewhere between lunch and dinner. And the 'snack' was born..

UnevenTan Wed 07-Aug-13 20:46:58

Mini have you had medical advice about dd? The pattern of behaviour you are describing sounds really concerning sad

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:47:14

you are talking utter bilge
most of the world eat supper much later than the British (10pm in Spain), with lunch around the same time and no snacks
much of the world do not eat lunch (regardless of ramadan)

what on earth makes you think people cannot last 6 hours without filling their faces

insanityscratching Wed 07-Aug-13 20:47:50

Why though Neo is it too long? It's what we all do here and what we have done since they were small probably two or three. My reasoning would be that if they were hungry they would ask. They don't ask so why would you give food that wasn't asked for?

HeySoulSister Wed 07-Aug-13 20:48:12

I have 3 teens who happily go without for 5 hours at a time, what's the issue?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 20:49:27

see who can go for 5 hours between eating the most times

THAT is "bilge" talkin as is Ask her which slebs she wants to look like

Seriously love you sound like a walking talking copy of Heat.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 20:50:58

It's not the period which matters but WHAT she's eating and drinking. Trying to "help" a child with an eating disorder by instigating another form of control will only make it worse.

The teen needs reeducating physically. Not "helped" to control herself in the way Talkin suggests OR compare herself to celebrities.

Minifingers Wed 07-Aug-13 20:52:04

I need to have cheese and bread and butter in the house - for the rest of us. Cocoa for hot chocolate, sugar for drinks and cooking. I can't lock the fridge. I just want to have a normal family life - I really can't police our food cupboard/fridge all the time, and trying to stop her eating what she wants results in such hideous behaviour and bullying I just can't cope with it. I compromise by not buying sweet drinks, crisps or biscuits (which dd nags and nags me about) and by cooking family meals. I'm careful about portion sizes too.

Really - it's all part of her teenage rebellion and I just have to try not to allow it to get to me. You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. Neither can you make a strong willed teen eat sensibly, no matter how hard you try.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:53:10

Neo you are an ex anorexic. Your relationship with food is not the same as those who have not had the same psychiatric illness as yourself.

And sorry but you are UTTERLY UTTERLY wrong that 5 hour gaps between healthy meals will lead to anorexia

snacking was invented in 1972 by the Mars corporation to increase sales during the first big oil crisis. It did not exist before that time.

Three meals a day only came in around 1905 after all.

Lollydaydream Wed 07-Aug-13 20:53:57

Further up in the thread someone mentioned the advent of the pill as having an impact ; can anyone explain this further?

insanityscratching Wed 07-Aug-13 20:54:34

But in people with no eating disorder or weight problem why is going five hours without food wrong? And if you are at work you eat breakfast before you leave, lunch in lunch hour and dinner when you get home so surely many people do exactly that don't they?

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 20:57:08

are there strong cheeses you like that she does not (DH and I have found stilton to be useful for that)
bread : OK but make it wholemeal granary
butter : OK but make it block, in the fridge so harder to overdose
cocoa : wean yourselves off it for a month - habit then broken
sugar - ditto
and yes, its rebellion, but by removing the problem foods you are already well in the right direction
keep it up, you'll get there !

Sirzy Wed 07-Aug-13 20:57:15

The problem is at 14 the change has to come because she wants it not because she is being pushed into it. The hard part is finding a way to motivate her to want to loose the weight.

at 14 parents can only control what is eaten at home, so of course they can ensure that is a healthy balanced diet but it means very little if they then run off to the shop for pop and sweets.

Can you introduce some sort of mutual goal to lose weight/tone up (however you feel is best to word it) for? Holiday, or some sort of sponsored walk for a charity she cares about?

insanityscratching Wed 07-Aug-13 20:57:46

Oh right Talkin, I had a very absent health visitor and went back to work when ds was six weeks old and he had an older childminder who weaned him as she had weaned her children pre 1972. I completely missed the snacking indoctrination then.

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 20:57:53

Talkin thank you for your concern. However....I never said a 5 hour gap will lead to Anorexia. What I said was that instigating more control in a girl who already HAS an eating disorder will not help.

You're full of it.

Minifingers Wed 07-Aug-13 20:58:36

Loads of medical advice . Been there. Got the tee shirt.

She is a normal teen - just a VERY rebellious and determined one.

Should add - we live in a
poor area and she is by no means the fattest girl in her year. Some of her friends are really big too.

I'm not sure she actually cares that much (despite the rampant obesity/hypertension/diabetes in ds's family which augers badly for her future). In fact when in the past I have suggested that she think about her diet because it was harming her health has expressed the view that she wouldn't want to lose too much weight anyway because she wouldn't want to lose her boobs or massive arse.


FunLovinBunster Wed 07-Aug-13 20:59:06

Eat less move more.
Strict portion size. Many children are given adult size portions of food.
Don't buy junk food. If its not readily available kids can't get at it.
Ban pack lunches.
Improve quality and nutritional value of school meals.
Tax food companies that produce unhealthy food.
Improve labelling on foods. Make it clear how much sugar and fat is in it.
Make 4 sessions of PE a week for all ages mandatory.
Change the focus of PE lessons to show kids that an active lifestyle will help them stay physically fit and relaxed and help them beyond school.

Sidge Wed 07-Aug-13 21:00:40

We seem to have lost sight of the fact that it's OK to feel hungry - for us and our children. People can't seem to go any time at all without eating.

Combined with a lack of physical activity and a diet high in processed food and refined grains.

We have lost sight of what is a 'normal' weight. I attended an interesting training session for HCPs given by a consultant paediatric endocrinologist - she showed slides of children seen in her clinics and asked us to mark which ones appeared a healthy weight and which ones were an unhealthy weight. Even as HCPs we got many wrong!

Minifingers Wed 07-Aug-13 21:05:06

She is a cheese aficionado and will eat ANYTHING, including cheeses like stinking bishop. shock. DH works really, really hard and cheese and wine is his treat.

It's just not fair on the rest of us to have to massively restrict normal foodstuffs in the house. And she'll find a way around it. She always does. If she wants to eat shite she will find a way.

candycoatedwaterdrops Wed 07-Aug-13 21:07:12

Talkin You are missing the point spectacularly. Neo is correct, there is nothing necessarily wrong with not eating for 5 hours (for most people) but making a competition of it is just asking for trouble.

Lonecatwithkitten Wed 07-Aug-13 21:07:19

I hate these threads full of pious oh parents should do this and do that.
My DD is technically obese. I don't buy crisps, sweets or biscuits. I cook from scratch every meal measuring portion sizes carefully. We eat a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables. GP has checked food diary and can't see anything he would change. She got three small Easter eggs at Easter we still have 1.5 left.
DD takes part in 7.5 hours of PE per in which the teachers say if she tried any harder they think she would explode, last week she was at netball camp and played Netball for 5 hours each day and we dog walk as well.
She has a max of 1 hour screen time per day.
However, technically if you do my BMI I am also obese, but with measurements 29, 26, 37 and taking a size 10 my GP says I am not.
GP is of the opinion that both myself and DD carry very high muscle level and that she will end up like I am. But still I am judged for the way she currently is. In my GP's words we both have a 'traditional' body type which can't be judge by modern BMI calculations that don't take actual measurements into account.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 21:13:41

oh dear, a girl after my own heart. I ADORE good cheese!
and yes, cheese and wine is what makes life worth living!
you are right, if you are enjoying good food, all you can do is lead by example that good food is to be savoured and enjoyed

do you have all meals at the table?
do you make a ceremony out of cutting the cheese on the cheese board (all wrapped in wax paper, been out of the fridge an hour)?
do you refill the (small) wine glasses to savour with each cheese?

I know it sounds daft, but that IS something the French get right : you eat at the table at meal times - no TV dinners, no phones at meals, no TV at meals
if you are buying good food, make it THE MOST important thing in your house at that moment.
She will understand in time

Chottie Wed 07-Aug-13 21:25:45

I grew up in the 1950/60s and brought my children up in the 1970/1980s. I fed my children the way I had been fed as a child. I think the main difference between then and now is the huge amount of choice. When I go to the supermarket there are whole aisles devoted to crisps and snacks and sugary cereals and drinks.

As a child I ate three meals a day and no snacks. Foods like crisps were treats and only eaten at parties. We always ate as a family, my mother cooked from scratch and she grew vegetables. I think food was simpler and not so 'fiddled with'. When I go shopping if an item has a huge list of ingredients with additives and e numbers, I don't buy it.

People are definitely larger now, you only have to look at old news reels or photos to see this. There has been a huge increase in the incidence of Type II diabetes.

Monty27 Wed 07-Aug-13 21:30:16

It's the manufacturers for adding crap and being allowed to add crap, and the retailers for buying and selling it on. And us for falling for the marketing.

The Foods Standard Agency are not on the ball.

For the record, my dc's weights are fine but I am under pressure from them to buy 'crap' for snacks. Which I do within limits. If I had my way it would be different.

Ho hum.

RobotHamster Wed 07-Aug-13 21:35:41

I agree that snacking has a huge impact. Its actually quite hard to eat more than you need if you're just having 3 good meals a day. I happily go without snacks, as does DS. You just need to get used to it. Having a biscuit at 11am is a habit, not a requirement.

If you're the type to snack and graze, fine if you have small meals. Too many people eat their normal 3 mealsaand then snack on top of that. I don't remember snacks as a child, we werent allowed them - we certainly didn't have any at school. What's changed in the last 30+ years?

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Wed 07-Aug-13 21:37:48

Talkin crapping on about good cheese won't detract from the fact that another poster has agreed with me and challenged your views. But I suppose you'd rather ignore that having tried to undermine me for having problems with my weight in the past.

loopydoo Wed 07-Aug-13 21:46:27

I also think that it's not only down to parents - it's society and government influence.

Parents usually both work now so children are often given more convenience food than in the 70s/80s.

Meals are often a lot less organised and taken ad hoc rather than at the table. UK society is just in one big rush and I think obesity is down to the fact that work takes over our lives and spare time to just go for walks has gone out of the window.

When we were little, my parents used to take us out for after tea walks, in winter and rain as well whereas now, everyone shuts themselves in and stares at screens all night!

insanityscratching Wed 07-Aug-13 21:54:50

Mini I think you will have to sit it out until she decides for herself to do something about it. Having bigger friends will make it easier for her I imagine dd and her friends are all size 6 to 8 and wear similar fashions so there's an incentive to not get big. As a teen I know I lost weight without really trying once boys were on the scene probably because I was always out, maybe she will too.

FrancesDeLaTourCoughngIntoABin Wed 07-Aug-13 21:58:52

Mini, I assume you've done this, but what does she thinlk about it? Does she see it as a problem, and what does she think will take to change it?
(It's the age of 34 I'm only just figuring it out for myself!). The one thing I do know about losing weight /maintaining a healthy weight though is that the same thing rarely works for more than one person. You really need to work out what kicks you into starting, the actual method (calorie counting vs low carb vs etc) and how you motivate yourself when you're flagging. If you try to follow someone else's "fool prrof" method, it's unlikely to work for you.
Anyway, like I said, I do know how hard it is and I sympathise with her. What motivates her in other areas of her life? What gets her fired up?

hardboiledpossum Wed 07-Aug-13 22:08:07

Talkin, as i said i can't link as in my phone. But i have read lots of the research. There is lots if evidence to suggest that eating 5 or 6 small meals is better than eating 3. Obviously only if hey are healthy though. This is how we eat in my family anyway and it works for us. In a day i might have, scrambled egg and asparagus for breakfast, a small bowl of nuts, an avocado salad, live yogurt and fruit, a small chicken and veg stir fry and then a banana later.

Talkinpeace Wed 07-Aug-13 22:17:21

there is lots of reportage to that effect but little or no peer reviewed evidence to that effect
particularly as access to food five times a day is an exclusively 'Western' phenomena of the last 30 years
that and ALL research is paid for by somebody and Nestle and Nabisco have deep pockets

Monty27 Wed 07-Aug-13 22:40:30

Talkin you are extremely patronising and rude.

Mini my dd lost loads and loads of weight at 14. It just happened as a natural thing. No change in diet or anything. I did homecooking a lot and limited the 'goodies' cupboard (she's 20 now and size 8). I have a ds who's 17 and he eats the biggest pile of rubbish ever (or at least as much as he can get his paws on), but he skateboards, so far from overweight.

Take it iin your stride, dd will hopefully mature enough herself to realise she wants to be lookin' good smile smile

I think the issue gets overcomplicated.

If you stick to fresh fruit and veg, avoid processed meats and avoid ready meals, sweets and crisps like the plague, it generally won't matter when you eat or how much you eat.

I can't help but feel those who try x diet or y diet or try more meals or less meals or who try controlling meal sizes are missing the point. Perhaps they are mistaken, or perhaps it is a way of avoiding the real problem, which is what they eat.

I also reckon a lot of parents talk a better game than they play.

And I also reckon a lot of people underestimate how much bad stuff they eat and feed their children.

At school in the 80s I used to get 1 chocolate biscuit (e.g Penguin, Viscount or similar) or 1 bag of crisps. I also was allowed 2 biscuits with my cup of tea when I got home. It seems quite similar to what children get now, to be frank, although I always hated and never had fizzy drink.


I actually think snacking is the main cause. Grazing all day, between meals is now the norm; brought in by the health visiting profession.

It depends on what you eat. I am stick thin and graze constantly - on apples, oranges etc.

I am surprised that my colleagues don't complain about the frequency with which my bin fills up with foetid peel.

MrsMook Thu 08-Aug-13 06:16:41

I think the hangover of the war era attitudes to food in a society where calorofic and processed food is easily avaliable has has a lot to do with it, and has distorted society's sense of a healthy portion.

In a (sad) way, I'm quite glad DS1 has food allergies which mean that at 2 1/2 he's never eaten chocolate because of the milk and soya content. I would never have banned it other wise, and it would be for occasional treats, but to not have (mass produced) cakes, chocolate and many other highly processed low nutrition foods in our lives means that he has to have a clean diet. People act like it's a tragedy, and it's not. He's got a great appetite and will eat anything other than salad. On a typical day he'll normally have one snack which if sweet is at least something like a humzinger which has some nutritional value. He is fee to leave food he doesn't want.

Screen time is limited. Left to his own devices, TV/DVDs will dominate his day, but since recovering from pregnancy/ birth of DS2, we've put a timer on the TV and it "breaks" at 10am and won't turn on again until he's in bed. Not being able to switch it on removes the issue.

He walks a lot. I didn't want a double buggy, so most of the time he walks. We have back-up options of a seat on the pram and baby carriers, but they aren't often used as he can easily walk over a mile already. I'm lucky that I have local services about half a mile away a nice distance for us to walk together.

It is very early in his life, but he is off to a decent start on food choices, attitude, family eating round the table and being active, and I hope that is a foundation for a healthy future.

I was away on Guide Camp last week. An ex-brownie was there and when I last saw her 2y ago I thought that she was going down the same path to obesity as her mother. 2y on and I'm sad to say she's developing a large belly. At some point she will either be compromising her health very seriously or have to change many habits that were ingrained early in life which will be tough. I've worked in a wide range of schools, and there is definately a class split with a greater proportion of obese children in poorer areas. In some schools your sense of a healthy weight is very distorted. Slim builds are rare making the overweight look normal and making it hard to judge the boundary of where obesity is, and only those who are on their way to morbidly obese stand out. That is a lot of health problems banking up for the future.

I think it's all a combination of various factors:
lack of time/knowledge/ money/ motivation to prepare fresh foods
vast amounts of retail space dedicated to high calorie/ low nutrition foods
distorted portion size
misleading claims of "health" level of foods
"treats" being a regular component of diet
snacking being treated as normal
less spontaneous active play (physical activity seems to be more structured because of access to safe spaces)
car dependency and often poor access to local services on foot.
Fear of damaging peoples' self esteem about challenging size
a culture of quick fixes for foods and weightloss
high advertising and promotion of unhealthy foods, often on subtle things like special offers and positioning
additives in foods

Prior to DS's allergies I checked labels on foods, and now I'm pretty rigorous and it's amazing how much the "same" food can vary by brand.

Most people gain excess weight subtlely with a small excess being consumed to used, and often small changes can make a big difference over time.

Mominatrix Thu 08-Aug-13 06:26:17

One key culprit has not even been mentioned here - the proliferation of fruit juices and smoothies. These are given to children as "healthy options" are anything but. The sugar hit and in the particular form of sugar it is in (fructose) is just like mainlining sugar. Funny how people demonize fizzy drinks and think that these juices/smoothies are oh so healthy - they should look at the sugar content of both, and might be surprised that it is the smoothies which have a far higher sugar content. Children should only be given fruit in their original form - with the fibre content intact, and should be only given as a treat!

Another culprit is the habit children get into from a very young age of constantly eating something - why? Bad for their teeth, and bad habit to get into.

bragmatic Thu 08-Aug-13 06:41:51

Mominatrix, why is whizzing fruit in a smoothie bad for you?

I expect whizzing fruit into a smoothie is just fine. That is very different from blending fruit juice into a smoothie.

There is a reason why fruit juice tastes sweeter than juice from a fruit.

PaulSmenis Thu 08-Aug-13 07:11:33

You could always put a bit of coconut oil in it to lower the GI anyway.

FrancesDeLaTourCoughngIntoABin Thu 08-Aug-13 07:14:08

I asked a similar question. I always thought if you had an apple and an orange it was 2 of your 5 a day. But an apple and orange smoothies was just one which makes no sense. Apparently it's to do with removing the fibres in a drink and just drinking the juices.

I think it's also added sugar.

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 07:20:20

Although smoothies aren't ideal if a child really doesn't like fruit then they are a better way of getting the nutrients into them than just not having any fruit. Home made is much better though as then you know what is going into it.

I don't like the idea of any food being a treat, that makes it seem like it is better than all other foods. I certainly don't see the need to make fruit a treat, ideally it should be eaten at mealtimes because of the natural sugars but a balanced diet needs fruit and the pros far outweigh the cons.

CoTananat Thu 08-Aug-13 07:31:39

Because it separates the juice (fructose) from its fiber - it partially predigests the fruit, basically. The fructose hit from a smoothie can really hammer your liver.

(Fructose, like alcohol, is metabolised mainly in your liver.)

How can chocolate sensibly not be considered a treat?

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 07:45:34

Why does it need to be considered anything but a food? Why do we feel the need to add the treat label to it? It is a food which when you have a little bit of it occasionally does no harm.

Yes, but not a lot, which is why it is best considered a treat:

"treat" being something that is nice, but best had in moderation.

It could be said that sweets and chocolates no longer being considered treats in a meaningful way is part of the problem.

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 07:54:30

Why, making something into a treat makes it desired and expected more. Having something just as part of the diet with no fuss made about it makes much more sense.

DS very rarely asks for chocolate because a fuss has never been made about it, so 9 times out of 10 when he asks for some he can have a small amount of it, just like if he asks for a banana he can.

Whereas I'd say that making something into a treat makes it desired as much and expected less.

We have always treated chocolate, biscuits etc as treats and my children (like children of all previous generations) don't expect to get them in any great quantities, nor do they pester me because they know what the answer is going to be.

Like yours, they are quite happy with a banana.

Bakingtins Thu 08-Aug-13 08:02:25

MrsMook 's point is interesting. My DS2 was also milk/soya intolerant which led to a lot of label reading. Between that and me doing SW to lose baby weight we ate pretty much no processed foods. We have slipped back a bit since he outgrew it as no longer have to be so careful, but the principle of cooking from scratch remains. On SW you can basically eat what you like as long as it's made from scratch, as most ingredients are 'free'.
Perhaps encouraging young people to cook is one way forward. My DS is only KS1 but all they ever cook at school seems to be biscuits...

justgivemeareason Thu 08-Aug-13 08:06:13

It's got to be partly down to technology ie computers, iPods etc. All that time that children spend doing that, I would have been out and about playing in the garden/street/park as all the other kids were.

However who are these 20% of children who are overweight? I literally can't think of any obese children in my dc's school nor any of my friends' children nor any children at their activities.

StillSlightlyCrumpled Thu 08-Aug-13 08:08:12

It is such a worry & whilst the answers appear simple it clearly isn't.

My current gripe is with DS1' high school. He left our local primary last year, where actually we had always been very happy with the school dinners, he came home & I took over with a healthy tea. He started the high school & I was shocked that there are bacon rolls, buttery bagels, hot dogs all served at morning break. There are vending machines stuffed with crisps & sugary 'healthy' snack bars & drinks.

What DS was doing was using his dinner money for morning break on a bacon roll, then not needing lunch as he was still full. When he would get off the bus at home time (then starving) he would go to the shop & spend his remaining money on rubbish. Anyway we did quickly put a halt to it when we found out as it was definitely affecting his health (although he was still skinny) & the school is about to start a cashless system which will also help, but it did show me that despite having a very healthy first eleven years to his life he still made rubbish choices.

As a more general point, people tend to forget that drinks contain calories: so someone on a diet picks up a Boots meal deal with a hummus and watercress sandwich and a bag of "crisps" - current total 300kcal - and then chooses a "healthy" smoothie over a can of pop, adding nearly the same calorie load again.

I mean, there's obviously more nutrition in a smoothie than a can of Fanta, but in sheer weight management terms they are a notable pitfall.

formicadinosaur Thu 08-Aug-13 08:11:44

Diet and activity.

Hours sat in front of a screen together with lots of processed food is the problem.

Mominatrix Thu 08-Aug-13 08:14:43

Once can give treats and not make a fuss over it. I did not mean to treat fruit as some rarified item to be treated as something special to have, but, as another poster states, something to have in small quantities.

Smoothies are OK only if you make them and serve them immediately. However, why the need to whizz up all of that fruit and give a huge sugar hit to the child's body when they could eat the fruit individually in its original form - slower input of sugar into the bloodstream for several reasons. Also the child would eat less of it as all that fibre would prevent them from finishing the lot.

Store bought smoothies are filled with fruit with very high GI fruit, diluted with more fruit juice, and the water soluble vitamins would have degraded from their original levels due to the storage time between making the drink and drinking it.

Allthingspretty Thu 08-Aug-13 08:17:42

Teach people how to make healthy food on a budget.

I think giod is used in some cases to pacify kids who are badly behaved so I woukd say more support with parenting

Variety.of excercise at schools not just team games but excercise that can be carried out on your own like the gym

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 08:19:22

The calories in drinks really shocked me when I started loosing weight. Given that I could drink 2 or 3 big bottles of pop in a week that was a lot of empty calories. I have now cut that out and only really drink water with the odd glass of dilute squash which has helped with my weight loss a lot.

I also don't think the amount of carbohydrates people eat, especially 'white' carbs helps - it is seen as quite normal to have 2 or 3 slices of white toast for breakfast, sandwiches on white bread for dinner, pasta for tea etc etc. If these were swapped for wholemeal alternatives it would probably make a lot of difference and reduce the need to snack as much as people wouldn't get the same dip in blood sugar a few hours after eating. Wholemeal also provides much more goodness.

justgivemeareason I'm glad it's not just me who hasn't noticed lots of obese children.

I don't live in a particularly affluent area either, it is a pretty average rural village so there is a mix of people.

Of my 3 children, DS2 looks chubbier than DS1 and DD (just checked on the NHS BMI calculator and he is around the 50th centile, DS1 is around the 25th, DD around the 2nd). But I don't see many children looking a lot bigger than DS2.

I know people keep saying that you can't tell just by looking, but I find it hard to understand why not? DS2 looks a lot bigger than DD. An obese adult looks very different to a healthy weight adult. What makes obese children different?

Watch a programme called 'the men who made us fat' it shows the invention of 'snack' foods. It explains A LOT.

WhoreOfTheWorlds Thu 08-Aug-13 08:35:05

We never made a big thing about sweets, chocolates or crisps being 'treats'. Instead, our DCs were allowed them most days but just in a limited fashion.

I think problems arise when sugary foods are treated like some sort of Holy Grail to be doled out once in a blue moon. Then when children go to secondary school or have access to their own money they go beserk and gorge on them.

Exercise helps too, getting them to play lots of activities and going on long walks together at the weekend. Take them swimming when you can and keep a bat and ball in the boot of your car, so when you're out for the day a quick game of cricket or rounders is always an option.

Don't ever discuss dieting or comment on anyone else's body shape just emphasise the importance of being strong and healthy and active.

We went out for dinner recently and at the next table were parents who were very overweight and their 3 DCs, aged between about 6 and 12, who were all very overweight. All 3 DCs had 3rd helpings at the unlimited ice-cream machine while their parents happily looked on shock

Food has changed a lot over the past 50 years. Fruit and veg doesn't have the same nutritional quality as it did back then. Bread production has turned into some frankenstein version of what it used to be. Added sugar TO EVERYTHING. Even those cooked chickens you buy from the supermarkets. Think they are just chicken? They are actually pumped full of dextrose to give it it that 'golden' cooked colour. Awful.

For those who are talking about taxing high sugar/fat foods to make them unaffordable, do you not think food is unaffordable enough already and it would perhaps be better to make cheap fruit/veg easier to come by and so relatively cheaper? In the small town where I live there is no supermarket, there is a fruit and veg shop but if you work out of town that is closed when you get home, so you are left with convenience store overpriced fruit and veg. Not everyone has internet access to shop online or the inclination to do so, or the ability to drive to Aldi.

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 08:50:40

I think that is a big part of the problem, it is so hard to know what you are actually buying. Short of growing everything yourself you can't be sure what is in your food.

I tend to use butchers and green grocers as they aren't slightly better (I hope!) than supermarkets but that comes with the negative of being more expensive.

Lots about food here.

My solutions would be:

don't let locals plan their play equipment and parks
Yes. That sounds harsh, but when a specialist in play designs a park the results are far better - variety of equipment so children of all ages and abilities can play at once - no one is bored or messing around with and breaking equipment not designed for them.
They often come up with ideas Jo Bloggs wouldn't think of as well - one fabulous park I take my kids to has outdoor adult fitness equipment eg cycling machines positioned so adults can be active while supervising their kids instead if just sat on benches.

more use of sports funds to encourage young children to join sports clubs and active groups
Often these things are free or cheap for over 8s and really expensive for under 8s (i know this is to do with adequate supervision, but there are ways it can be handled) - the younger you get children into good habits with exercise the better. And while some young children will happily get their daily quota of running around without clubs, others are more placid or don't get the opportunity so would really benefit.

sports clubs at schools should be open to everyone
I know this gets debated a lot on MN, and fair enough if child A isn't actually particularly good at netball there's no reason why they should have to be on the team and going to cup matches - but if we want fit and healthy children there is no way we should be excluding children not on the team from taking part in a sport they're interested in - they should be allowed to take part in practices and social games. Not every school allows this, and it's really unhelpful.

Wrt food, my only one is better education on portion sizes.

As well as what a healthy child + adult looks like. - this one bugs me, because of course the more overweight children and adults their are the more out perception of what is normal is squiffy - being told to compare your child to others isn't helpful.

meditrina Thu 08-Aug-13 08:53:52

This is more aimed at secondary pupils. But I'd like to see Food Technology abolished as a subject, and replaced with a short, compulsory course on Cooking, Nutrition and Household Budgeting.

Interested to more that size 10 was considered 28 inch. In my day, it equated to size 28 jeans - but that was for hip clearance (no "women's fit" back then) and the waists hen not in men's-sized garments was 25 inches.

Bonsoir Thu 08-Aug-13 08:56:39

We need to dramatically reduce our DCs' intake of refined carbohydrates. And dramatically increase their consumption of protein.

PaulSmenis Thu 08-Aug-13 08:58:46

It would be great if schools provided more opportunities for exercise, but I think they should offer more variety for non sporty children.

You can tax bad food and incentivise good food (that is, raw ingredients) through the VAT system. VAT at 20% on processed foods, and at -20% for raw ingredients such as meat, fish, vegetables, etc.

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 09:02:47

I think cooking and nutrition should be taught from primary school age. Not in a "this is good this is bad" way that healthy eating is too often taught now but getting children to understand what makes a balanced diet.

SleepyFish Thu 08-Aug-13 09:03:13

It is possible to make low gi smoothies. Use water instead of juice as the base, kids don't even notice, add a couple of vegetables in or make a breakfast smoothie using milk/yoghurt/banana. They don't have to be 100% fruit.

Personally I think the reasons for childhood obesity lies firmly at the parents door.
Too many parents scared to upset their children by saying no for a start. People seem to think they can make their kids happy by giving them whatever they want when really what they're giving them is a lifetime of health issues.

Too much time spent in cars and in front of screens, neither of which most people had when I was growing up. I find the fact that most of ds's friends who are all 4/5 yrs have ipads or Nintendos etc quite disturbing. There's just no need at that age and I don't buy the 'but they're educational' argument. Children learn through play at that age and will learn how to use these devices at school, no need for pre-schoolers to be sat at a screen at all imo.

And I don't get the whole 'it's the governments fault'.
They don't force anyone to feed their children crap, advertising does'nt help of course but again it really is just a case of saying no.
I do however think childcare, especially after school clubs should revolve around physical activities/sports.
The answer to obesity is as simple as eat less, move more as we all know. How to get that message through to those in denial I have no idea.

Cheeseatmidnight Thu 08-Aug-13 09:05:53

Cookery skills are lacking in my opinion. My sister buys a lot of ready made crap purely because she has no idea how to make it herself.

However, to cook you need facilities and money, so not always easy.

Cheeseatmidnight Thu 08-Aug-13 09:08:00

My other sister was told that her dd was overweight, got really upset, then changed her diet and she was noticeably slimmer. Turns out that my lovely little sis had no idea that snacking on 2 slices of white bread for a 4 year old then a full 'white food' eg chicken, pasta, bread meal was no good for her dd.

It is about education

I think everything in moderation works well, my 4 children are all slim probably because they never stop, they are always on the go and because i make sure aswell as healthy things, they have treats too.

I think banning treats althogether is counter productive as the child stuffs their face to the limit when out of the house or when older creating obesity to start. Cooking from scratch is also good, you know what goes in it and whether it is healthy. Frozen vege and fruit is just as good if on a budget. And there is no need to posh meat, just cut all visible fat of cheaper meat.

I think as a nation people have become lazy and feed their children way too much calorific junk when quite simply these things should be occasional treats. Junk isn't the problem, it's too much of it.

I do think fresh fruit and vege shoulf be cheaper, peppers for example are very expensive as are most other vege.

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 09:13:29

There is nothing wrong with screen time, in fact there is research to show it is beneficial, it's about balance. DS has a leap pad and plays on it for at most 30 minutes a day some days it doesn't get touched. Doesn't stop him from spending most of his time running around! Are you as against children reading as they means they are sat still too!

Naebother Thu 08-Aug-13 09:14:23

There's more shit food around. Same reasons as adult obesity exists. We were all skinny when I was a kid cos we had no money for sweets, crisps, ice cream etc.

Say no to your kids when they ask for stuff.
Get them outside every day.

funnyossity Thu 08-Aug-13 09:20:28

I notice snacking is so much more prevalent than when I was young.

At the activities I attend with my kids there is snacking going on DURING the hour - except for swimming obviously!

Another thing about outdoor play equipment - very rarely gets used if it's raining. It rains more days than it's dry in Britain, we do actually need to design play equipment so it works and is still fun in the rain.

passmetheprozac Thu 08-Aug-13 09:37:35

Its down to balance, and education, and the fact that, being overweight has become the norm so much so that we do not see it anymore.

I have personally lost 2 stone, I do still eat crap from time to time, but it is balanced. I also exercise.

Added to this I genuinely can't believe that a poster would advocate a competition for a teen girl for how long she can go without eating, and to ask what celeb they would like to look like. There is nothing wrong with being hungry or going 5/6 hours without food but to make it into a competition? That is asking for trouble.

bronya Thu 08-Aug-13 09:45:41

I think that overweight has become normal. You should be able to see the ribs of any young mammal, humans included, once they're beyond babyhood. Nowadays, a child like that and people would be muttering that they were too thin!

Also computer games instead of running around outside. Snacks between meals (in our house as a child it was fruit (unlimited) if you were hungry, a piece of cake at teatime at the weekend, and otherwise 3 meals a day. If you didn't eat it, no pudding, and nothing else till the next meal).

RobotHamster Thu 08-Aug-13 10:07:25

The men who made us fat makes for enlightening viewing
(I haven't been able to check the link as am at work, but hopefully that's the playlist for the the whole thing)

Very interesting I think.

The whole 3 programmes are a real eye opener. He's got a new one starting tonight on bbc 2, 'the men who made us thin' about the diet industry.

RobotHamster Thu 08-Aug-13 10:38:01

Ooh really? I'll look out for that - thanks.

SleepyFish Thu 08-Aug-13 10:46:47

Sirzy, I have no problem with 'balanced' screen time, just think it's unnecessary in under 5's. There are far more fun ways of learning.
Besides it's the same problem as with food. Parents who allow their children unlimited junk are the same parents who will allow too much screen time for an easy life.

Miggsie Thu 08-Aug-13 11:00:06

Obsession with snacking and "treats".
Treats these days are not treats at all - they are daily foods. We are constantly given messages to "treat yourself" which is normally a 400-600 calorie packaged piece of zero nutrition.
As you would have to run for over 1 hour to burn off those "treat" calories most people slowly put on weight.

When I was a kid sweets were a really rare occurrence - I can remember the days dad came home with a box of liquorice for instance and the excitement of chocolate biscuits. Now sweets, cakes, chocolates etc are around every day and are eaten as a matter of course.

Children are encouraged to eat constantly. When DD was a toddler I think I was the only mother whose pram was not filled with those cheddar snack things and endless bananas and dried fruit and biscuits. It is possible for children to not eat every hour and not die - although round here you would not think so. I nearly fell over when DD asked if she could have a snack for ballet class. A 40 minute class where most of the girls were apparently stopping to eat biscuits halfway through. Why? Most were coming out and eating again as well - it is as if having food in your hand is a form of nervous habit.

DD is at sports camp this week and reports some children have lunch boxes entirely filled with sweets and chocolate. A packet of haribos and a milky way are not sufficient to play 6 hours of sport...

chocoluvva Thu 08-Aug-13 11:07:43

I agree with Miggsie and the posters who have mentioned highly processed, sugary rubbish, especially sugary drinks and food containing glucose-fructose syrup.

Portion control

More exercise. Many children (for whatever reason) don't walk to school, don't do any/much exercise and eat very unhealthily.

WhoreOfTheWorlds Thu 08-Aug-13 11:09:08

I agree with what you say Miggsie. It's as though some parents are scared that if their DCs aren't fed every 2 hours they might wilt and die.

When at home our DCs eat at meal times and that's it. They are perfectly capable of going 4-5 hours between eating without wilting. At the very most they might have a piece of fruit between meals or one small biscuit.

It really irritates me that other family members and friends think my DCs need to be offered a snack them moment they walk through the door. Why? Even when we will all be sitting down to a meal together in less than an hour it's 'Would you like a biscuit, some crisps, a wafer, some toast?'

It really irritates me that relatives think that my DCs 'must' always have a pudding after their meal. Why?

funnyossity Thu 08-Aug-13 11:11:02

Yes Miggsie this snacking non-stop through the activities is the new normal! I don't even remember it with my eldest child who is just 8 years older.

chocoluvva Thu 08-Aug-13 11:13:53

Ooh I agree! SIL thought I was being harsh for saying no to her 6YO when she asked for a snack 20mins before the dinner I had prepared for her as well as everyone else in the house was ready.

Her DD complained about being starving - so her mum sent her through to the kitchen where I was making the dinner to ask for a snack just after I'd told them that dinner would be ready in 20mins!

cory Thu 08-Aug-13 11:15:43

Miggsie Thu 08-Aug-13 11:00:06

"Children are encouraged to eat constantly. When DD was a toddler I think I was the only mother whose pram was not filled with those cheddar snack things and endless bananas and dried fruit and biscuits. It is possible for children to not eat every hour and not die - although round here you would not think so. I nearly fell over when DD asked if she could have a snack for ballet class. A 40 minute class where most of the girls were apparently stopping to eat biscuits halfway through. Why? Most were coming out and eating again as well - it is as if having food in your hand is a form of nervous habit."

This. Absolutely. And the first generation of the snacking children are now undergraduates: they genuinely do not believe that they can survive a 90 minute seminar without refreshments, because they have no experience of not having a food stuff in their hands.

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 11:19:24

That's a very good point cory. I am just going into my 3rd year of a degree and I am constantly amazed at the bags full of sweets, butties, crisps Etc people take with them into seminars and lectures. Mind boggles how they will cope when working!

WhoreOfTheWorlds Thu 08-Aug-13 11:19:24

I agree with you too Bronya. I remember a really silly thread on here saying that Katherine Middleton and her sister were too thin and a bad role model for young girls.

How ridiculous! They're both slim and athletic looking and obviously very healthy. No one can have hair as glossy and abundant as Kate's unless they're very healthy inside. They're a good role model for young girls.

I see so many teenage girls now with really big spare tyres and thighs that rub together as they walk, and upper arms that wobble and even a double chin. This isn't 'womanly' or healthy at all.

People confuse the fact that being a size 16 is the 'average' size and therefore 'normal' with the assumption that being a size 16 must therefore be healthy and normal. And nine times out of ten it really isn't.

biryani Thu 08-Aug-13 11:21:23

I think:

Not eating what's put in front of you.
Snacking and grazing.
Lack of activity( not just sports, but being driven to school etc).
Family lifestyle endorsing poor habits.
Availability of unhealthy food.

It's basically just poor discipline, surely?

cory Thu 08-Aug-13 11:24:18

I don't think there is any harm in treating crisps, chocolates etc as a treat and making it more desirable as long as you are confident enough to show that you don't indulge your desires every day.

In many ways, I think a good Rioja is more desirable than tap water. As in being more festive, more special, more exciting. But I still only have the Rioja for special occasions: when I get thirsty on an ordinary boring day, my first port of call is still the tap. Because I was taught as a child that there is a natural rhythm between feast and everyday and I have internalised that.

You can teach children self discipline without making it a dreary or punishing thing.

I can't help noticing that there is still a difference between the UK, where crips are part of everyday lunch boxes etc, and Scandinavia where crisps are what you have at parties. It doesn't mean my Scandinavian nephews spend all their day yearning for crisps: they know they will get them now and again, just not every day. "Everyday" is boiled spuds and meat or fish and two veg; that's what school dinners are like, that's what home dinners are like, that's what children expect. And there are noticeably fewer obese people around.

Parties are special so you have special foods to mark them. Otherwise how do you know you are at a party?

Josie1974 Thu 08-Aug-13 11:25:07

Ok, my theory...

Don't cook too often , we don't need big cooked meals all the time. Also, if we always get exactly what we feel like eating we're likely to overeat.

Eat a good breakfast

Snack lots throughout the day on healthy snacks, never get too hungry so you overeat to compensate

Don't make a big deal over meals - so long as snacks are healthy and balanced, why do kids(or adults( need to eat lots at particular socially prescribed times

Serve small portions, don't encourage dc to get used to having a really full stomach - much better to feel unpleasantly full after eating too much

Eat "unhealthy" snacks too in moderation so they are not forbidden

Puddings occasionally - so not forbidden but not expected

The idea is to encourage healthy eating without consuming excessive calories whilst being able to listen to your body and what it's telling you...

cory Thu 08-Aug-13 11:36:40

Constant snacking, at least if on fruit, is very bad for your teeth though. And lots of the snacks that are sold as healthy snacks are also fattening.

Constant snacking is everywhere though, not just with children. Look around the average office and people are ALWAYS eating. Breakfast/pre lunch/lunch/post lunch snack/more snacks. It's non stop. Nothing worse that someone next to you constantly chomping away on apples all day. Just because they are apples doesn't mean you can eat a whole bag and think you're being healthy!

HoikyPoiky Thu 08-Aug-13 11:46:26

I didnt used to give my DCs snacks when they were little unless we were swimming or hiking miles or similar but let them eat as much they wanted at mealtimes. I also let them have a treat a day.

Even now they are almost adults they seem very good at not eating between meals. They are all 'fat' free and healthy and they still seem to keep to the one treat a day rule, even the ones that have left home. grin

I don't have snacks in the house or I would eat them and never buy things like crisps and biscuits.

RobotHamster Thu 08-Aug-13 11:49:07

YY - snacking is awful for your teeth.

I used to have to carry food around with me, I was almost scared of getting hungry and would worry about it. I stopped doing that, it was ridiculous.

I carry stuff about with atm but only because I'm pg.

cory Thu 08-Aug-13 12:04:11

I am a great believer in letting children experiency physical sensations like being hungry, or cold, or wet, or tired. Not all the time or just for the sake of it, but in a natural way, by taking them out and about, letting situations arise where this will happen naturally.

I think people are increasingly steering away from small adventures, because they really think it would be bad for their child to get overtired one day or miss out on their eating routine or get caught in the rain. But I think it is good to experience what your body can do.

Josie1974 Thu 08-Aug-13 12:16:01

I'm not advocating "constant" snacking - but regular snacks so you don't get too hungry. Ie every couple of hours or so.

Healthy snacks which aren't bad for teeth:

Nuts, rice cakes, tofu (cut up into chunks and eaten with fork), carrot sticks, cucumber, olives

Avoid too much fruit juice

Josie1974 Thu 08-Aug-13 12:17:24

Btw I have 3 dc, 2,4,7 and they will all eat the above snacks

Talkinpeace Thu 08-Aug-13 12:19:21

Constant snacking is REALLY bad for your insulin system
your digestive tract needs time to "hoover into the corners"
snacking is the cause of the rise in obesity
eat twice or three times a day
nobody needs to eat more often than once every four or five hours
(except possibly international athletes in training)

a light (not cereal / sugary) breakfast
a decent lunch with plenty of protein and not too much carbs
a decent supper with plenty of veg


Josie1974 Thu 08-Aug-13 12:27:16

Talkinpeace - I completely disagree that no-one needs to eat more than once every 4 or 5 hours. We are all different. I for one could not function that way. I need to eat every 2 hours. I would imagine most young dc would be the same. Healthy snacks every couple of hrs IMO is much better than overeating a few times a day.

Humans would've evolved eating as they found nuts and berries etc. not going hungry for hours then gorging on cooked food in one go.

Josie1974 Thu 08-Aug-13 12:29:13

I also know from experience that if I get too hungry my body snaps into survival mode and I gorge at the next meal. Humans evolved to avoid going hungry.

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 12:39:06

There is nothing wrong with feeling hungry, people are just conditioning themselves to expect food and thing they need to eat as soon as they feel a bit peckish. I think one or two SMALL snacks a day is ok but constant grazing isn't good for you and is what makes children want to eat all the time rather than being able to wait until the next meal time.

I also think a lot of people mistake hunger for thirst. I was reading an article before which suggested 75% of people in the uk were dehydrated because they simply don't drink enough water

wonkylegs Thu 08-Aug-13 12:48:35

I can't eat large meals (thanks to medication screwing up my insides as well as making me constantly nauseous), so it's better for me to eat little spread throughout the day.
Moderation is something people aren't very good at. Which to be honest is understandable especially with yummy cake grin but once you get into the habit it can become easier.
I've never been overweight (& consider myself lucky) but I also tend to eat small portions (I am small so it seems logical). I eat chocolate, cake, fried food etc but not very often. I've never been on a diet, I always think they make you think about food too much.
I don't fill a huge plate of food, I don't always finish in a restaurant or at a friends house and I don't eat when I'm not hungry.
I think the same way with my DS.
The weighing and measuring at school seems a slightly wonky campaign to me.
DS was measured last year.... We got a letter back telling us DS was overweight according to his BMI and a leaflet telling us to how to change our eating habits (to exactly what we already do!)
I mentioned this to our GP as we were there the following day and she fell off her chair laughing saying no way was our DS overweight (I knew this already but it's nice that somebody else said it besides me). He's so skinny that his trousers fall down and his ribs show, he's fit and very active and eats healthily, so an overweight diagnosis is very obviously wrong.
Nephew also got told he was overweight in the same program despite being of similar build and lifestyle to (if not even more active) DS.
Made me wonder if the 'statistics' might be as similarly accurate. (yes I know there are overweight / obese children and efforts must be made to help them but how do we get it right if they are getting it so obviously wrong in cases which discredits the programme IYKWIM)
I think it happens because it's a computerised process without adding common sense to weed out anomalies.

Yeah but the food we eat now is totally different to the food we ate as we evolved. We HAD to eat nuts and berrys as we found them because we have no way of preserving them, and the cooked food would have been meat. Not a salt and sugar laden shepards pie bought from the local supermarket. The problem is a lot of people eat 3 meals a day of reasonable high calories AND lots of snacks on top.

WhoreOfTheWorlds Thu 08-Aug-13 12:56:33

I really agree with you Cory.

We're getting so risk averse today. Parents are terrified of their child ever suffering a moment's boredom, or feeling a moment's hunger or thirst. They're terrified of their child bumping themselves or falling over. They're terrified that their child might feel a spot of rain on their face or a cold wind on their hands.

I'm not saying everyone should leave their children exposed on a freezing hilltop for days at a time, but come on. Children are extremely robust and usually like a slight edge of excitement or thrill to their lives.

Even if that's just having to sprint down the road in heavy rain back to their house or wrestling their way through heavy undergrowth and getting a bit scratched on a family walk. Children are perfectly capable of being thirsty or hungry for a while without keeling over.

Today children are cosseted and spoon fed and pampered and smothered in cotton wool to the extent that you get undergraduates who can't put petrol in their own car and primary school sport days where no child is ever allowed to lose at anything.

ICBINEG Thu 08-Aug-13 12:56:56

There are lots of report indicating that having more smaller meals can be advantageous in weight loss.

At the end of the day it is calories in minus calories out. You might find you eat more calories in a day if you do 2 big meals, or you might eat more if you graze continually...that is going to depend on the details of your own metabolism.

I think the 'this worked for me so you should try it' meme is a bit dangerous to be honest.

badguider Thu 08-Aug-13 13:04:30

I am sorry that I haven't read all ten pages but I think that we have to bear in mind that the big difference between my childhood (70s-80s) and now is that I was 'playing out' all day at weekends and from after school till dinner on weekdays and often after dinner too (in the summer anyway).
The tv was rubbish and there were no computer games (except the occassional zx spectrum which required a lot of patience).

AND not only were we out being active, we weren't snacking while doing it.

Today's screen-based or indoor activities don't just prevent children from running around, they can also be done while snacking and in fact encourage mindless eating. We were always in a rush to eat our dinner and skip pudding so we could get back outside to our friends again.

I am really not sure how we can replace this 'playing out'... there are some good reasons why children do it less now - my parents still live in the cul-de-sac i grew up in and it's now FULL of parked cars compared to when I was growing up, there's just no space now. And that's nothing compared to the traffic on through-roads. Also, with so many children in childcare until 6pm or so (more working mothers than the late 70s) they are often indoors doing activities. Even those doing 'organised' sport will be taking turns, learning skills, listening to instruction etc rather than just haring around the place.

After school clubs where kids just 'play out' without instruction (and without snacks!) might be an idea... but these days even playtimes are supervised and sometimes organised to eliminate bullying and schools tend to keep children in at the merest hint of normal british weather so I can't imagine 'free play' after school clubs really being free....

Kids here still play out. Maybe this is why I see very few obese children, as playing out is normal. From my kitchen window I can see lots of children, aged between about 4 and 14, playing out with bikes/scooters/footballs etc. They build dens, climb trees and try to catch fish in the stream. After walking home from school mine dump their bags, get changed, have a drink and rush straight back out to play until I call them in for supper. Pretty much what I did at their age 30 years ago.

Maybe I just live in a 1970s parallel universe?

At the end of the day it is calories in minus calories out.

This has been pretty widely discredited now. Obviously very strict calorie deficits will lead to weight loss, but will totally mess up the hormones which control metabolism in the process.

Also, it is much easier to control calories by eating certain foods (i.e. not spiking blood sugar).

Talkinpeace Thu 08-Aug-13 17:18:12

Article in New Scientist last week explaining how different types of food interact with your body to give different hormonal and endocrine responses
and some people are genetically predisposed to be fatter (but not nearly as many as tell us they are)

Feckbloodypets Thu 08-Aug-13 18:58:44

Long term lurker here and did just register to reply to this thread.
Just wanted to say that I deal with a few larger and obese kids in a social setting that are carrying extra weight due to all the reasons listed above(and I did read all 11 pages) but sometimes it is not the parents or children's fault.
My child is the perfect example.
Average daily intake is porridge made with water, no sugar and berries or wholemeal toast with banana for breakfast. Lunch 1 salad sandwich with at least 3 colours of veg and some ham, 2 pieces of fruit and water or diluting juice for lunch and a home cooked meal for dinner that involves at least 3 veg, little carbs and normally wholemeal (eg veggie fajitas) and snacking on fruit during the day, protein is normally lean red meat with no dessert. The only time he gets sweets, crisps, fizzy juice is 1x a week after rugby games on a Sunday.
Average exercise involves full contact rugby 3x a week for 1hr1/2 min from August to April, walking 2 miles to the bus stop for school 2x daily as neither me or my husband drive, riding 3 days a week during winter for at least 1hr plus an extra 2mile walk to the stables from the bus stop and back but up this to at least 4hrs riding a day and being at the stables from 9 to 5 working during the holidays, scouts 1x a week which is a very active group he also swims at least 1x a week not always in the pool but also in open water depending on where we are and has so far this year bagged 3x Munro's and learned to Kayak again on open water.
Plenty of energy but does still go on facebook or whatever for about an hour at night.
And according to the NHS and school he is considerably overweight at 12 years old,5ft1 and 8st10

Sorry for the essay

Is he "built like a rugby player" Feck? I imagine he must be fairly muscular if he plays full contact rugby three times a week. I remember when I was in school (rural Wales) a lot of boys were quite big when they started secondary school, but by the time they finished Year 11 they had turned into big strong rugby players, built like a brick outhouse but certainly not fat.

Feckbloodypets Thu 08-Aug-13 19:19:53

That's part of the problem. Built like a muscular forward, as when the wee guy started playing up here at 3 they went straight into full contact so 8 years of this has considerably built up his muscle mass along with ponies that have made his life challenging since he was 4 but due to a small covering of fat (ie you can see the muscle definition but there is a slight give to it when prodded ) the school and when I took him to get his nose checked after a interesting game, the doctor feels he is far to overweight for his age and height and I should be limiting what he eats and increasing his exercise. Think I need an extra few hours in the day

Talkinpeace Thu 08-Aug-13 19:28:06

if he pulls hit tummy in, can he fit his fist into the gap under his solar plexus?
can you see his collar bones clearly?
if he bends over forwards, can you see his ribs at the back?

if not he is too fat

as at the age of 12, testosterone is highly unlikely to have developed much muscle yet

somewhere along the line he is eating more and doing less than you think

cory Thu 08-Aug-13 19:37:29

How did children manage without constant snacking 50 years ago? Or even 20 years ago? Because there is no doubt that they did manage.

I think it is very likely that children will overall eat less if food is presented in the shape of 3 sit-down meals of well cooked and fairly unexciting food. When I was a youngster a typical meal was boiled potatoes or mash, boiled greens and smallish quantities of meat. If you were hungry enough you filled up on the potatoes and greens, but you wouldn't sit eating more and more of them just to keep yourself occupied.

He could send a bit of his weight to my DS1 Feck. He is almost 11 and loves rugby, but despite being broad shouldered and not too short (4'9") he only weighs 5st. He is resigned to the fact that he is probably destined to be a Winger grin

Talkin DS1 has developed quite a lot of muscle in his chest, upper arms and shoulders over the past 12 months and he isn't quite 11, so they can do. Looking at him in comparison to his friends at the swimming pool you can see that he is starting to change shape.

Talkinpeace Thu 08-Aug-13 19:41:49

The food does not even have to be boring.
It just needs to be in discrete batches that provide the digestive tract with plenty to work on, and a break between to work on it
so that the hormones in the system learn to deal with "full" and "stop" messages that are overridden by snacking.

I'm not sure where the idea of eat all day being what we did before farming comes from, as it is not the case.
Hunter gatherer and simple agrarian societies spend all day collecting food and then eat it - in one meal - at the end of the day
so that they can share it out with those who are not picking and digging and hunting.
Its incredibly selfish to eat as you go and deeply frowned upon.

Feckbloodypets Thu 08-Aug-13 19:48:50

Knew somebody would say this, but unless he is stealing food no he is not eating any more as his school lunches are made for him as are the lunches he takes to the stables. I also know he is going to training as I coach a younger team than he plays in and my step mum is the manager of the yard that his pony is kept at so know how much riding he is doing a day as he helps school the riding school ponies along with riding both her horse and his own pony. All water sports are done with either myself or my best friend and 1 of the Munro's was with myself and the other 2 were with my FIL.
In answer to your questions
No cant fit his whole fist in as the upper abdominal muscles are easily visible and take up some room
Yes especially the break on his left one from a riding fall.
No but you can make out all 3 of the large back muscle groups and you can make out the vertebrae between the muscle groups.

Also due to the muscle mass of his thighs (again clearly visible definition on the large muscle groups ) if trousers are bought to fit his waist the seams will be split within the week.

Your response does seem to prove the point that I was making though. That no matter what some parents and children do they are always going to be classed as over weight

Biscuitsareme Thu 08-Aug-13 19:51:30

More exercise, less processed food, smaller portions, fewer snacks.

Having said that, some of the children at DC's primary school are chubby but I can think of only 1 out of about 150 who is actually obese. His mum is very overweight too.

soverylucky Thu 08-Aug-13 19:52:09

When I was at primary school in the early 80's we had our breakfast before going to school - 7.30 am in our house - we had to get a bus. We were then expected to last till lunch time with was probably around 12.15. We had afternoon play and then home time at 3.30. After bus journey we got in at about 4.15. we had a small snack sometimes but usually waited till our evening meal which was 5pm. This was the norm for lots and lots of children. At my dd's primary school they sell toast, breadsticks, garlic bread, tea cakes at morning break and even do bacon sandwiches once a week as a treat. What is it that means the children in my dd's school can't cope with the way I was at school?
I maintain that children snack too much these days.

Feckbloodypets Thu 08-Aug-13 19:52:45

Hi Jemima No chance of stealing any from the boy. Fast on his feet and coach wants him to play centre but I have brought up an oddity and he is determined he will play Hooker for not only his club but his country( Only thing is the little darling has not decided if that is Scotland or Italy yet)so is quite happy to keep the muscle mass he has at his age. Tell your boy nothing wrong with a good winger

I lived with a rugby player without an ounce of fat on him. Think tall second row for muscle build. Legs like my waist, scarily rock solid.

"Morbidly obese" by standard measurement hmm just proving that BMI is only meaningful to people of the middle 75% of any scale.

Sirzy Thu 08-Aug-13 19:57:05

thats a good point Horry, I think most proffessional rugby players would be classed as obese via BMI - sometimes it needs to be taken with a pinch of salt!

Talkinpeace Thu 08-Aug-13 19:58:14

Fair enough, he is unusual. It would be interesting to get a body fat percentage scan done on him (or even one of those sets of body fat scales) as they separate out muscle from fat and give a more nuanced picture than just BMI.
From your figures up thread, his TDEE (what he needs to eat each day to keep being as he is) runs to nearly 2400 calories ...

DS1 has his (very ambitious) eye on playing for Wales, and my 10 year old nephew tells me he will play for England. Maybe they'll be proved right and all be playing in the 6 nations one day!

Feckbloodypets Thu 08-Aug-13 20:11:48

Had to just go google TDEE as being a bit thick and couldn't understand If I was feeding him 2400 calories a day(and would have been majorly suprised if I was) or if that was what he needed and I agree he is a bit unusual. Must admit I have always wanted a set of the scales that do the body fat thingy as I would be really interested to see sons results. Remember the used to do the calliper tests in 1st year of high school up here but they seem to have stopped this.
6 nations in 10 years then Jemima should be fun smile

chillinwithmyyonis Thu 08-Aug-13 20:28:12

I agree with all said re portion sizes, snacking, more junk food available. However my dd, nearly 5, is a gannet, honestly if you're not looking or not eating fast enough - she'll have it. She loves food, any food, healthy or not. And you can take her anywhere because she'll devour even new and strange foods with relish.

But she's not overweight, she's 75th percentile for height and 25th for weight. I put it down to her personality, she has a classic case of ants-in-the-pants-itis. She's constantly moving and fidgeting and driving everyone else insane. She'll watch TV but she has to be jumping off the sofa or doing headstands while shes doing it.

My ds though, 2, is an extremely fussy eater, he'll take a bite of that, a few nibbles of this and that's it, he's done. But he's more sedentary, he'll happily sit in his buggy for ages if you let him, just taking in the sights... not arching his back to get out and walk 5 miles home like his sister used to. He's on the 75th percentile for weight btw.

noblegiraffe Thu 08-Aug-13 20:37:31

I remember a thread on here where the OP said they had eaten 48 Cadbury's creme eggs in a couple of days. Many posters said that they were impressed. Some others confessed to similar binges.

It was a very odd thread, and clearly with a different set of posters to the one on this thread.

I would think that a very active 12 year old would probably need over 2000 calories a day TBH. DS1 can certainly eat a good 1800 a day, especially if he is playing sport as well as general running around. A typical day during the holidays is something like:

Breakfast - 3 weetabix with semi skimmed milk, a banana.
Mid morning - an apple
Lunch - 2 brown rolls with tuna and salad, a pot of yoghurt, a small bunch of grapes.
Mid afternoon - 3 breadsticks and some hummus
Dinner - Chicken, carrots, green beans, new potatoes.
Before bed - 3 oatcakes, a small piece of cheese and a few cherry tomatoes.

That must come to at least 1800 calories. But he weighs 5st and is always on the go, so I don't worry about it.

Gettingfit Thu 08-Aug-13 20:50:58

Don't forget though you can be skinny on the outside and fat on the inside.From what I have read it seems to me that the food we eat and feed our kids is the real culprit here. So much of it is filled with sugar by the manufacturers to prologue it's shelf life and so it is considerably more calorie dense than 20 or30 years ago. Also as you have to walk something like one mile to burn about 70 calories you have to move a lot if that is your main way of maintaining your weight. if you consistently over eat by just one hundred calories a day it is easy to put on a pound a week

Talkinpeace Thu 08-Aug-13 21:06:19

BBC2 right now .....

RobotHamster Thu 08-Aug-13 22:30:12

The Men Who Made Us Fat is onBBC2 at 11:20 tonight and will presumably be on the iplayer.

Definitely worth a look

Talkinpeace Thu 08-Aug-13 22:33:20

the one called "The men who made us thin" at 9pm was interesting too.

Bluelovesred Thu 08-Aug-13 22:48:42

FFS this is my last post. Firstly if your child is not obese?
It is not up to you to save the world from obeses

Please take note, as with many other
Issues, it's ok to feel sad for particular children's circu
Circumstances, it is Not ok to comment continuously
On a medical issue of which you have no direct

If statistics are to be believed most if not all
Your children will grow to be overweight.

HotDogWater Thu 08-Aug-13 23:17:46

I think it's mad that genetics haven't been
mentioned so far. I think there is a skinny gene. DD and DH have a beautiful, long, fluid frame and not much of an appetite. They can go all day without requesting food and nibble or gorge when they see fit. DD is fairly active but has her fair share of screen time this hols. I don't ban any food. They are just never going to be big in a million years.

I am constantly hungry with v low blood pressure and blood sugar. DM and DD and DSis are all overweight. I have to force myself and work my body like mad to be a size 10 and nearly 6 foot.
Some simply are luckier than other in what they were born with.

CoTananat Fri 09-Aug-13 07:25:03

Gettingfit, the overeating thing: 100 calories a day equals a pound a week -just seems so unlikely to me. If that's true, how come people don't accidentally become skeletally thin? Like, whoops! I skipped breakfast every day for a year and now I have accidentally died of starvation!

I go through phases (when it's hot mainly) where I eat hardly anything, yet I don't lose weight.

I have never been overweight. I have a bit of podge on me but I'd have to put one smth like two stone to even reach 25 on the BMI thingo. I am the same size in my thirties as I was when I was fourteen -I still have some clothes from then and they fit fine. But what I eat has changed enormously over those years. I spent several years in my early twenties existing almost entirely on pizza and Snickers bars. Like, six bars a day, easy! I've eaten almost completely vegan when I was hanging out with a lot of vegans, just, all kinds of things, all kinds of ways of eating. These days I eat mostly low carb, as DH needs to eat low carb for medical reasons, but I also am eating a pain au chocolat and drinking cafe au lait as I type so it's not that low carb grin. I don't do very much exercise - I've never gone to a gym in my life - but I have visible muscles. And my body shape, barring illness, is fairly consistent. A hundred calories - my diet changes by so much more than that. What I eat might change by a thousand calories from day to day, month to month.

And you know my mother was the same until menopause.

I just feel like this has to be genetically determined. I think it might be useful to look at why people don't get fat, as well as why they do. I get a lot of messages in the world that it's because I'm somehow more moral, more controlled, better than those fat people. But it's a con! It's not true! I'm not doing anything at all. I just came this way.

Twattybollocks Fri 09-Aug-13 07:39:19

I think portion control has a lot to answer for. I see people putting huge plates of food in front of their child, and I just cringe. A child's stomach is roughly the same size as their fist, so really a small plate and a child size portion is correct.
Everyone seems surprised that my kids still have kids meals aged 7 and nearly 9, why on earth would a child who is 2/3 my size need a portion that even I can't finish?

Well, genetics alone can't explain the exponential rise of obesity we see now. Two generations back, no one was obese - now 20% of people are, that's not genes.

Sirzy Fri 09-Aug-13 07:50:35

I think genetics can make it harder to control weight but poor diet and lack of exercise are what causes weight gain

CoTananat Fri 09-Aug-13 07:59:23

No but it is probably our genes that make those 20% of people fatter in this environment.

Like, you get dealt both a hand of cards and a game you gotta play that hand in. That's the whole idea of epigenetics, innit. grin

Bakingtins Fri 09-Aug-13 08:07:42

bluelovesred you don't think we should be concerned that children as a group are getting fatter and fatter and heading for an early grave if our individual children are not fat? If most children will be overweight adults (think it's now 25% of adult population obese and about 50-60% overweight) then even more reason for the parents of skinny kids to instil good habits now.

I'm sure genes play a part in determining metabolism, but they haven't changed on a population level in the last couple of generations, and there is nothing you can do about the genetic hand you've been dealt, whereas you do have control over your diet and activity levels.

Backonthefence Fri 09-Aug-13 08:41:41

Well considering how people are fatter now than before it isn't 'genes' that is the problem, what is the problem is that people eat more and move less then they did before.

I'm not sure that's right exactly.

It certainly has to do with availability of food - which in the UK has pretty much never been so easy or cheap to buy. And the genetic predisposition is to do with how one stores and uses fat, not how fat one is.

In previous generations those with the predisposition still wouldn't have had enough to eat to lay down an extra ten stone in fat (honourable royal exceptions grin ) .

soverylucky Fri 09-Aug-13 09:35:18

People definitely do have different metabolisms that I think is linked to genetics. I am overweight - not a huge amount as I have worked so hard to lose weight - but I know it is because I eat too much and don't move enough. However I know several friends and dh's family who eat utter, utter crap and are not overweight. Some people are just lucky that they don't put weight on. That's fine but it isn't fine when they start telling me where they think I am going wrong!

I guess in the past the difference is that I would have been much more active. Household chores for one are much easier than they were in the past, then there is rationing to think of and the fact that people would walk a lot more than now.
I must say though that there are pictures in the family album of my great gran during the war when everyone is supposed to be as skinny as a rake and she was HUGE!.

I come from a long line of fat women and was a fat child who grew into a fat adult. But I have lost weight (through eating healthily, keeping an eye on portion size and doing more exercise) and am now making sure that I keep it off.

It must be much easier in terms of appearance to be able to eat anything you want and stay thin, but I can't imagine it is very healthy. At least I have a little inbuilt alarm system that if I eat too much or don't exercise enough my jeans get tighter and remind me I need to do something about it.

RobotHamster Fri 09-Aug-13 11:15:06

I don't think metabolism varies as much as people think - I'm sure I've seen studies about this that show that the majority of people have very similar metabolisms and any changes are down to medical reasons or just anomolies. Obviously it changes as you age though.

(don't quote me on this, I can't remember my source. I think it was on a program with Michael Mosely about fasting)

TheWickedBitchOfTheBest Fri 09-Aug-13 16:50:10

I'm like CoTanat I think.

I've never been overweight. Even when I was pregnant and put 2 stones on I lost it all within 2 months of having the DCs without doing anything. I've never been on a diet and my weight has always been fine for my height even though I have a real weakness for chocolate and eat it every single day.

But I think I have a few genetic 'helpers' which I was born with. I really dislike feeling physically very full and bloated. I have an in built warning system that stops me gorging on food when I start to feel full I stop. If I'm aware I over indulged one day then I find it very easy to eat less the next day.

I don't exercise but I rarely sit down for long. I'm always pottering about and will even get up during a film I'm watching to wander about for a few minutes as I get restless.

Cat98 Fri 09-Aug-13 18:46:22

Very interesting thread.
My 2p- Most of the points raised are correct.
Easier available snack foods
Peer pressure
Parents wanting to stop whining/give kids what they want because they feel guilty about some other aspect of their parenting (and lets face it, there's a lot of pressure these days on people to 'be the perfect parent')
Less activity
Less playing out
More car usage
Health and safety concerns
Portion size
Working parents more likely to use convenience foods (short on time)
Perception of what is a 'healthy' size

Ds is not overweight but probably eats too much 'treat' food. He has come to expect it now at activities, parties, friends houses - and at weekends with his dad and I. It's hard - I didn't want to restrict it or it would be more desirable, but I think we've no choice.
I also think educating the children about how to be healthy and what foods nourish our body as early as possible is key - ultimately we want them to grow into adults who have the ability and motivation to make healthy choices for themselves.

thebody Fri 09-Aug-13 18:53:45

I am a 70s child raised on findus fish fingers., sweets, fuzzy pop. no healthy meals at school or home and tons of snacks.

skinny as all my friends as we played out ALL day, rain or shine on our chopper bikes

excercise excercise excercise.

Talkinpeace Fri 09-Aug-13 19:05:06

Interestingly it was a visit to the dentist that put paid to the "sweetie tub" in our house : now there are only squares of bar chocolate at the weekend.

If I go to the gym on a Wednesday I swim a mile in 40 mins (450 calories) do an hour of yoga (150 calories) and then do 50 mins of body pump (550 calories)
All of which is outdone by a cappucino (200 cals) a muffin (300 calories) and then a chicken caesar salad (700 cals)

research shows that kids "playing out" burn a lot less calories than their parents ever thought
and that kids get very similar levels of exercise than they have ever had (particularly girls pre WW1)

what has changed is the mass availability of cheap food
and the
dangerous dangerous insistence on offering snacks
Read Swallows and Amazons : no snacks there
or in Tom Sawyer
or in Little Women
or in Anne of Green Gables
or in Jane Austen
or the Brontes

kids ate at meal times and that was it
they fully digested and burned their food
they were not fat

CorrineFoxworth Fri 09-Aug-13 19:18:42

cory that is shocking about undergrads and lectures. Perhaps they think they are in the cinema, where gluttony seems so acceptable. I don't actually go very often but am always amazed by the type and amount of "food" that people buy when they are about to do as sedentary an activity as one can imagine. When do they fit in a meal? Is it in place of a meal or what? confused

When I was a child we had a movie night when my Dad bought a video-recorder. We watched Clash of the Titans, Jaws and bloody Ghandi (he got a bit carried away) and I don't remember being offered any extra food or most of Ghandi just because we were sitting down and watching a screen.

Read Enid blyton - it's snacks all the way!

I do agree with the point though. I've been to the cinema in America and couldn't believe the amounts people were eating as snacks. This has nothing to do with genetic disposition- it's too much crap food.

RobotHamster Fri 09-Aug-13 19:29:38

No Its not, its all potted meat sandwiches and ginger beer grin

Talkinpeace Fri 09-Aug-13 19:30:49


In the faraway tree - which I have just finished - there are cakes and sweets all the time atmoonfaces house!

CorrineFoxworth Fri 09-Aug-13 19:40:39

I remember Enid Blytons lashings of ginger beer grin

Crap food and drinks too. I've never understood buying a a McD's and dessert and a bloody huge milk-shake to wash it down with which is probably the calorific equivalent of whole other meal.

I don't remember ever having a drink in the cinema and in the seventies if we did have a coke or lemonade at a pub in the summer for instance, it was a tiny glass, 125 ml if that. Lashings of pop was probably shock two of those!

RobotHamster Fri 09-Aug-13 21:53:09

Yes, and they were always ravenous weren't they, and required a giant meal at a farm house somewhere.

It was always ham, eggs, tomatoes and fresh bread washed down with the ginger beer, wasn't it? And scrumped apples and ices afterwards.

"Oh Tommy, you're so licky." <snort>

Well no wonder, when most people think that crisps and cake bars have a vital place in a packed lunch, and fruit is a sugary processed humzinger, washed down with juice and sugary yogurt.

My cousin came back from holiday in Malta, said she was shocked to see the size of the British guests in her hotel, they were twice the size of the other guests, they really stood out. She said she was so amazed she could not stop looking at them stuffing themselves from the buffet. Cake after cake like they had not seen food before.

Fabsmum Fri 09-Aug-13 22:29:21

"I've never been overweight. Even when I was pregnant and put 2 stones on I lost it all within 2 months of having the DCs without doing anything. I've never been on a diet and my weight has always been fine for my height even though I have a real weakness for chocolate and eat it every single day."

Me neither. I never thought about my weight, didn't exercise much, and liked fried food.

I was a size 10/12. Was skinnier after each pregnancy than before.

I'm fat now though. I hit 43 and my thyroid went gyppy.

Now I'm a size 16. It can happen.....

CorrineFoxworth Fri 09-Aug-13 22:42:50

Fifteen years ago an all-you-can -eat Chinese buffet opened up in my town. I loved it because you could have tiny bits and pieces of everything and try things you'd have been nervous about ordering from a takeaway just in case you didn't like it.

I don't go these days because it is really expensive. Why? Because people will fill an entire plate with sweet and sour and rice. Then another piled with noodles and beef. Then not one or two but ten duck pancakes. Then they go to the English counter and get a hamburger and chips, and then an ice-cream.

The puddings used to be really nice and refreshing, just fruit and the occasional sorbet, but now it's all cream cakes and the clientèle trough those all down as well!

goodasitgets Fri 09-Aug-13 22:53:31

You can definitely be fat inside
Recently I lost 8kg in 8 weeks. Am I healthier? No. Because my measurements don't correspond to that much weight lost. I've lost muscle and would put money on it my body fat has gone up (8 weeks no exercise enforced by physio). But on the scales and BMI I'm technically healthier. Whereas when I am exercising I don't lose as much weight but my measurements change by inches
Now I get how you can be "skinny fat"

afussyphase Fri 09-Aug-13 23:24:47

Lots of individual choices on here, and that's fine, we all make our choices. But human nature hasn't changed. It's our environment that has.

OP asked what we could do - here's my two cents: Tax high-sugar foods and drinks to the extent that they are not cheap enough to be appealing any more, so that they don't line the walls of every corner shop. Give tax breaks and subsidies to healthier options, so they do.

And make going to parks, pools, indoor play, cycling, scooting, ice rinks safe - how many of us let our DC just go out and play? With all the talk of grooming, stories of acquaintances who've had creepy things happen, etc etc, we don't do this anymore, for better or worse.
And if we work, have other DC, or for many reasons, we can't sit in parks for 4 hours a day while they are active, same for swimming pools, soft play, sport events -- we work, we make dinner, we do toddler bath/bedtime, we get degrees from OU, we improve our qualifications, we single parent our families, we juggle our shifts with our partner's shifts, we struggle to pay for our housing, we work long hours, or we struggle to work enough to pay private school fees, or any number of things. Councils could provide active, supervised, after-school activities, supervised adventure park/playground/sport at weekends, traffic-free cycling and scooting routes to these venues, organised outdoor treasure hunts, you name it. And that's just 2 minutes of my brainstorming.
All of this would cost money, but not as much money as the NHS will spend on obesity-related problems. And some could be funded with all those taxes from all that sugary junk food.

loopydoo Fri 16-Aug-13 01:53:13

Completely agree with everything you said "fussyphase". Our lifestyle of two parents going out to work has changed the dietary habits of many people.......not being able to give the time for leisure and exercise is so many of us don't get outside enough. Great idea for council ran activities supervised for kids though.

Eyesunderarock Fri 16-Aug-13 07:43:57

Change the attitude of the parents.
Increase exercise levels for the entire family.
Reduce snacking as an expectation at all times.
Cooking lessons for teenagers, young adults and parents, In the GCSE years, learning how to cook basic healthy options with cheap ingredients on a weekly basis.

I live in NZ where people are on average some of the fattest in the world, despite high rates of participation in sports, often to very high levels. The reason is partly genetic - I am told that Polynesians have more trouble metabolising processed foods, and probably about 30% of New Zealanders will have some Maori or other Polynesian ancestry. It is probably also to do with the expense of fresh food - more expensive than the UK despite wages being lower, and poor people unable to afford the drive to the supermarket to buy them.

Mostly I reckon its diet. I often find myself shaking my head at what many my DDs' friends get given in their lunches. Some sort of sweet or treat is de rigueur, and people down gallons of ice-cream. At the after-school care programme, the children are given cake every day, and often crisp sandwiches - these are white bread spread with marg, with crisps inside them. I understand there is a fruitbowl, but I never see children eating fruit. Why would they, when they can have a crisp sandwich instead? And to me, this is what it is all about. Too many people think it is somehow unkind to deprive children of things like that, even though it is in early childhood that eating habits are developed. In my experience, children are quite happy with carrot sticks and the like, if that is all they are offered for snacks. It is better to give them a chance to develop a taste for such things. If one gives children a regular ration of junk right from the word go, they are much more like to become fussy about things like fruit, veg and even sandwiches. I would have thought this was common sense myself.

Bakingtins Fri 16-Aug-13 08:16:50

fussyphase our council has laid on free sessions with the playrangers in our local park during the school holidays (ball games, building dens etc)
This week there were 4 children there confused 3 of which were my son and two of his friends that I invited....

cory Fri 16-Aug-13 08:30:22

The cheapness of the snack foods and the sheer size of the supermarket snack food department used to astonish me when I first arrived in this country: I used to walk around the local store hissing to dh "but where is the food? how am I supposed to provide a meal from this?"

In the COOP where my parents live abroad the crisps and popcorn section is a small shelf sandwiched in between household utensils and magazines; in my similarly sized local COOP here in the UK it is a whole aisle.

This is what I've noticed in UK supermarkets on the occasions I've been back from NZ:

- Loads of ready meals
- Very cheap chocolate (and alcohol)
- Poor quality fruit and veg (fruit especially)
- Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of processed stuff of one sort or another.

Sirzy Fri 16-Aug-13 08:47:59

Cooking lessons for teenagers, young adults and parents, In the GCSE years, learning how to cook basic healthy options with cheap ingredients on a weekly basis.

I wouldn't wait until they are teenagers. The bad habits are already in place by then. Why aren't we teaching children how to cook a balanced meal all the way through school? Or at least KS2 onwards. There is plenty of things which younger children could cook or be involved in cooking which are simple and cheap. If parents can be encouraged to attend the sessions, or sent copies of recipes then that could help with those parents who genuinely think they can't cook/haven't got time to cook.

MrsMook Fri 16-Aug-13 08:48:04

I particularly hate shopping in ASDA as it's time consuming fighting your way past the junky snack aisles trying to find the intermittent ailses that contain food. All supermarkets have an element of it, but ASDA seems to have it on an epic scale! At my local one, the over-sized trolleys are packed with oversized packs of junk and pushed by oversized people. The curious bit is that Morrisons serves the same community, but without everything being oversized. The clientelle is very different. Many more older people.

I notice when cooking that because everything is packaged and very little avaliable loose, it's difficult to pick portions appropriate to your family size. Butchers and green grocers aren't accessible easily. Round here, you'd have to go into the city centre to the market. No surburban ones that are convenient to get to. When you have a set pack size, it's difficult to portion food appropriately without wasting a lot. I save food for future use, but it needs to be a usuable portion size to be worthwhile, which very often it isn't.

IMO it's a heck of a lot harder to get children eating healthily once they've been started off on rubbish. They should be eating healthily right from the word go.

That is the responsibility of parents, and I doubt very much whether schools can really mitigate the failure to carry out that responsiblity.

Sirzy Fri 16-Aug-13 08:51:20

I shop in Asda (because it is the only supermarket in town) but when i think about it I only actually use about half a dozen aisles because we don't need the snacks and most of the highly processed things they sell. I am lucky that we have a fantastic butchers were we can get good quality meat at much lower prices than the super market.

Even ox cheeks are the equivalent of 5 pounds a kg down here. sad

And lamb's liver is even more expensive angry.

Sirzy Fri 16-Aug-13 09:02:49

I agree toad, but I do think schools need to try to encourage children - and parents as much as possible - to try new things and gain skills in basic cooking in order to break the cycle otherwise the problem is only going to get worse.

I have learnt to cook from my parents, so I can use those skills to help teach DS to cook. When people haven't had that chance to learn it makes it harder for them to pass on the skills (not impossible of course you can teach yourself but you need to have the motivation to want to do so and the belief you can)

Interesting the observations about Asda - that's my experience too.

I mean, there's a fizzy pop aisle and a crisps/chocolate/sweets aisle at Morrison's, but half the frozen section is "ingredients" eg frozen vegetables, frozen raw meat, etc and there are several aisles of store ingredients such as pasta, tinned tomatoes, dried pulses, etc, and there's a total of one aisle of ready meals (half frozen, half fresh) in the whole store.

But when I'm in Asda it's just aisle after aisle of "open and eat".

cory Fri 16-Aug-13 10:02:30

Health and safety advice doesn't really help in getting children involved in the cooking either: so many childrearing books go on about kitchens being dangerous places, how you must keep your child out of the kitchen, how children under <insert ridiculously high age> must never have access to sharp implements or put something in the oven.

Dd had friends who were not allowed to make themselves a cup of tea in year six; in fact, she had friends who weren't even allowed to use the toaster. I could cook a 3 course meal by that age. But then my mother was a hard hearted woman who didn't really see why her 11yo burning her fingers on the oven whilst baking for the family tea was any worse than she herself burning her fingers on same oven door: we all did it from time to time.

Biscuitsareme Fri 16-Aug-13 10:03:49

It's not that difficult to start your DC of on healthy food, but it's almost impossible to keep them that way once birthday parties and invites to tea at friends' houses become a regular thing. Or they see the contents of their friends' lunch boxes and refuse to eat their healthy sandwich so-and-so has crisps and chocolate and fizzy pop so why can't they.

I find it frustrating. Sometimes I wish we could move to OH's country of origin which seems to be teeming with organic supermarkets and children who cycle to school.

Sirzy Fri 16-Aug-13 10:07:54

Cory - I must be a bad mum DS is 3 and already helps make soups and things! Closely supervised of course.

Biscuits - that only becomes an issue if you let it though, those foods are all fine in moderation. Don't ban things just encourage sensible eating which includes the odd pizza and whatever.

Biscuitsareme Fri 16-Aug-13 10:29:27

Sirzy- that's my point: I don't mind my DC having cake, crisps, pizza, whatever in moderation. What frustrates me is them seeing their friends eat junk instead of proper food at mealtimes, as if junk is a viable alternative to real food. That has led to a struggle in our house to get healthy food inside my DC who are both fussy eaters.

Also, obesity is being normalised in this country I find. The obese no longer stand out; they are becoming the norm.

cory Fri 16-Aug-13 16:51:00

I know what you mean, Biscuits. Dn's school is able to serve healthy cooked meals based around vegetables and meat with never a crisp or a cake in sight, because while the parents of their country do not ban crisps or sweets they all agree that they are party food, not for every day. An ordinary school day is clearly not a party so you don't expect party food for school lunches.

I think it's quite sad that the difference between party and everyday has been so eroded in this country: there isn't anything much you can give your child for a special treat because they have it every day anyway.

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