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Childhood Obesity: Webchat with Professor Paul Gately, Friday 6 July, 12-1pm

(117 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 03-Jul-12 14:23:16

Today one in three children are overweight or obese and research suggests that, if untreated, 85% of these children will become obese adults. To coincide with National Childhood Obesity Week Professor Paul Gately is joining us on Friday at 12 midday for a webchat about childhood obesity.

Professor Gately has over 20 years research experience in the field of childhood obesity and the study of weight loss programmes throughout the world. He formed the MoreLife programme which works across the country in partnership with the NHS to deliver specialist weight management services.

Paul has presented a number of television programmes on the subject of childhood obesity and is a spokesperson for Change4Life. He is also consultant to many government agencies, health organisations and corporations throughout the UK and internationally.

If you're worried your child is obese, or you have concerns about their diet or want advice on how to help them lose weight, join the webchat on Friday at midday or post a question in advance to Professor Gately.

Count me in

fivegomadindorset Tue 03-Jul-12 17:54:11

Boo, another one I would have liked to have done live but can't.

MyAmygdalaDidIt Tue 03-Jul-12 19:00:05

Are interventions for childhood obesity effective or should we be more focused on prevention as a society?

And if we d focus in prevention, what's the best way to do it?

lastnerve Tue 03-Jul-12 19:45:16

Would you agree or disagree that Child Obesity now, is more to do with the fact Children don't play enough and don't have the same levels of freedom they used to, rather than eating habits??? Its a rare opinion I wondered if you agreed.

conorsrockers Tue 03-Jul-12 20:51:52

I'd like to agree with you nerve, but I was unfortunate enough to watch the morning troop to a primary school (at least they were walking I suppose) next to my fathers house and most of them (and I mean MOST) were eating crisps/chocolate/some crap on the way, which was presumably their breakfast..... it's very sad, but I am afraid, unless there is a medical problem, there is a reason why the obesity rate is so high in this country, and it's not because the schools aren't providing enough sport time.

StarlightWithAsteroid Tue 03-Jul-12 21:38:19

Do you have an opinion on breastfeeding support or lack of it in the UK?

ohforfoxsake Tue 03-Jul-12 21:58:17

I'd like to know your views on the causes of the obesity epidemic, and how we can realistically implement change for the future. I don't mean rolling out government initiatives, but a fundamental understanding in how to take care of ourselves and our families.

It seems to me that in the last 3 decades we have seen a move towards faster, more processed foods, less activity, schools no longer teaching home economics, and many parents (through no fault of their own) who don't have the knowledge, time or inclination. Food is prepared for us, labelled 'good' or 'bad', and we take this as read. What about the calories v fat argument?

Also, in you opinion, should an influential parenting website be promoting fast food brands?

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Tue 03-Jul-12 22:23:23

I'm very interested in the idea that breast-feeding can help regulate a baby and child's appetite, and this can have a continued effect throughout life.

I BF my two children for an extended (or natural term) time, (up to 4 and 6 years respectively)

I feel they've always been good at regulating their own nutritional intake, though I don't go out of my way to give them sweets, and puddings and cakes etc. are more of an occasional than everyday occurrence. We have a fairly healthy vegetarian diet. We have positive attitudes to food, enjoying it as a sociable and enjoyable part of life. My son said just today that his favourite fruits were pineapple, mango, and lychee in that order ( as we shared a tin of lychee with pineapple) I thought "good call DS" - (but what about bananas ? He said apples are pretty nice too smile)

Anyway, questions would be ....

How important do you feel breast-feeding is in helping to regulate children's appetites ?

How important do you feel a positive approach to food is within the family, in combating obesity ?

And I'm also interested to see what you feel about the role of exercise and active, outdoor lifestyles in children's lives ( as lastnerve has asked )

I have worked with young children and their families throughout my working life, as well as my experience with my own two children.

Indith Wed 04-Jul-12 07:21:48

Why are we so obsessed with lowering our fat intake to the detriment of other things and how do you think we can change this attitude when children as young as 5 are being told "fat is bad" in school?

For example fat free yoghurts etc that simply have other rubbish pumped into them to make them just as creamy and tasty as a perfectly healthy whole milk natural yoghurt yet the additive filled one is seen as the healthier option. My 5 year old comes home freom school saying he mustn't eat this that or the other. He has started fussing about fat on meat and refusing to eat it and I have to try to undo the teaching done by school to let him know that a healthy diet needs to have some fat etc in it and that as a growing child he needs a bit of everything. Have we completely lost sight of what a normal healthy diet actually is?

TimeForMeAndDD Wed 04-Jul-12 07:37:00

There is much talk of childhood obesity at the moment but unfortunately, that is all it seems to be. No positive action or steps are being taken, not from what I can see anyway.

We have a family local to us. Every member of that family is morbidly obese, including the three children. The mother had a gastric bypass a few years a go and seems to think that will be the answer for her children, who are aged 15, 13 and 10. The family have other problems which indicate they need help, school are aware, the police are aware, but no one steps in to help. They are written off as a dysfunctional family. The 15 year old weighs around 22 stone now, the 13 year old 14 stone and the 10 year old weighs around 11 stone. If these children were severely underweight then some outside authority would be involved due to the children being malnourished. It seems there would be far more concern for this family if malnourishment were the issue. It's no good just talking about childhood obesity, some serious steps need to be taken to conquer it, it's not always just a case of eating too much, some families have deeper issues and need help.

Rant over wink

SittingBull Wed 04-Jul-12 08:18:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

vezzie Wed 04-Jul-12 09:44:16

Do you believe that there is a connection between increased commercialisation of our diets (more things in packets, fewer unbranded, unprocessed foods, more and more foods marketed specifically as snacks when 50 years ago people ate meals only) and rising obesity?
If so, what do you think the government's role in this should be? Is it really ok to let "food" manufacturers do what they need to do to turn their profits at the expense of the health of the population?
My personal view (as you may have guessed) is that this is one of those areas where the market is not the mechanism that can bring about the best possible outcome. However, anything that says the market is not always right seems to be very unpopular politically. What do you think about this?

I am concerned that placing the burden of "healthy eating" (whatever that is - a can of low-fat worms I won't open) entirely upon individuals, in an unhealthy commercial environment, is actively counterproductive (as well as being unfair) because it adds to the problematisation of food. I think the holy grail of healthy eating is a blithe indifference to food for most of the day when you are not actually eating a meal; and going on and on and on about it, creating this tension between what people should be eating and what is constantly being thrust in their faces, makes people more anxious about food (and more anxious in general) and this will always, in the medium and long term, lead to problems with diets: eating disorders at both ends of the spectrum.

Shouldn't the market be curbed in the interests of our health?

sophieontheinternet Wed 04-Jul-12 10:03:20

How much childhood obesity was there 30 or 40 years ago? Like lots of mums I instinctively answer "none at all" but that might be rose-tinted glasses!

tripletipple Wed 04-Jul-12 11:00:06

We have developed a snacking culture in this country. The first playgroup I ever attended with DS would give the children juice with buttered toast and biscuits at 10am. I didn't really want him to have it but didn't want him singled out either. (I could have stayed at home instead but was more worried about my sanity at the time if I didn't get out!) Now he's at nursery and they give morning and afternoon snack. When we visit other peoples' houses crisps etc tend to handed out too. When we are at home he is forever asking for snacks and treats because he has become accustomed to it. As previous posters have mentioned we see children snacking in the street and more and more "foods" are being marketed as snacks.
Should we go the way of France and do away with snack time in nurseries? Does the answer not lie in a cultural move back to sitting down to eat meals and no snacking in between?

swanthingafteranother Wed 04-Jul-12 11:51:06

Tripletipple - I think your comments about the snacks at playgroup/school are very odd. As long as snack is healthyish -fruity or carbs, surely children need to be "topped up". Often it is a good way to get children to eat in a communal situation, and learn to sit down and sit at a table, when they are toddlers. I thought the snack was the highlight of the playgroup - without it, there would have been much less sense of community. We all relaxed as we ate and drank together, and the children picked up on this.
Sometimes children are genuinely hungry midmorning and afternoon, if they have been expending energy - you should see the behaviour of the Yr 4's for example in my school just before lunch, sugar low is not the word for it.
And their behaviour after a meal/drink/snack is transformed.
Adults and children need snacks in different proportions.
I pity your child when he is 5 and you pick him up from school at 3pm and refuse him a healthy, sustaining snack, because it is not dinner time yet....

BIWItheBold Wed 04-Jul-12 14:06:43

When I was a child, growing up in the 60s and 70s, we didn't snack. We ate biscuits/crisps rarely - they were a special treat, along with fizzy drinks, that were only bought on special occasions when the Corona van came around. Ditto ice-cream and the ice-cream van.

We have become a culture where snacking is seen as the norm, such that it is now built into our days. We expect to eat 3 times a day with snacks spread out inbetween those, and then also reward ourselves with treats in the evening.

And what are all these snacks based around? Carbohydrates. Eating too many easily digestible carbohydrates actually induces hunger, because of the insulin response.

I believe that we are seeing a rise in obesity because we eat phenomenally more carbohydrates now than we used to - in the days before we all started snacking.

I would be very interested to know Professor Gately's view on this.

swanthingafteranother Wed 04-Jul-12 15:39:19

when I was a child growing up the 60's and 70's we had snacks all the time. Healthy snacks. Elevenses, after school cereal, toast, bedtime sarnies.Fruit bowl at the ready. Not one of us were obese - we were all extremely fit and healthy and wellgrown, because we exercised! Now as an adult if I snacked at the same level I would put on weight. But not when I was a child, running all over the place...

I think this is absolute nonsense. Just ask any person picking up their child from primary whether they can last from lunchtime at 12 till supper at 6. Or even 5. No way. Banana, toast, glass of milk, sandwich, juice (one of these, I'm not suggesting all) as a snack till supper. Provide that, and your child won't be asking for crisps and choc or having a meltdown from overtiredness.

swanthingafteranother Wed 04-Jul-12 15:41:44

Even at secondary I can remember aged 14, sitting down a break with a milk carton and a packet of crisps at 11am. We were starving by then. And then we had a school dinner at 12.30. I was not in slightest overweight, nor were any of my friends, and we bicycled to school, did sport etc. I wasn't sporty either.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 04-Jul-12 15:56:52

swanthing, there is evidence from research conducted by Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the Peninsula Medical School in Plymouth to show that children are not exercising less & they don't get fat because of lack of exercise.
There were no snacks at all at my primary school between arriving in the morning until lunchtime and there was no snack between lunch and my tea at 5pm. The only time we got a snack was if we were having "grown-up" dinner after 7pm.
Snacking, has become a huge business. Think of the vast amount of products that now come "individually wrapped". Think of the isle in your local supermarket dedicated to biscuits, then the one for confectionary & then the one for crisps. These products certainly aren't meals are they?

swanthingafteranother Wed 04-Jul-12 16:17:45

I have no problem with proper meals versus snacks..I just don't think a toddler having a biscuit a playgroup is the reason that children are obese, or that a tangerine provided for Reception children at 2pm is a sinister development designed to convert us all to grazing...
I think children need 3 proper meals and two scheduled snacks a day. That is not to suggest they should be given crisps, fizzy drinks icecreams every 2 hours, or drip fed carbs...

The main issue is really the lack of proper mealtimes not the existence of snacks. Presumably the reason why children need snacks all day is because they are NOT being given proper meals, eg: children sugar low at 10am because they had no proper breakfast.

vnmum Wed 04-Jul-12 16:26:10

or they had a crap high sugar breakfast, like many of the cereals marketed at children are swanthing

vnmum Wed 04-Jul-12 16:59:43

and there lies my question. If the government is on board to tackle childhood obesity and you are working with the government, why are food manufacturers allowed to market high sugar cereals and snacks so aggressively to children and why hasn't there been a sugar tax discussed? (bearing in mind sugar is the problem not fat)

Indith Wed 04-Jul-12 17:08:03

Mmm I agree about cereals. If mine have rice crispies or something then they get hungry. We limit rice crispies, cornflakes and the like to weekends when because we sleep in a bit, breakfast later, fill the morning with doing a food shop or something rather than a hectic school morning they are ok but if ds has them on a school day he complains afterwards that he was hungry. During the week they have porridge or something else filling.

I don't have a problem with scheduled snacks, I give them to my children but they are fruit, drink (drink very important as children often mix up hunger and thirst) and either a small biscuit, homemade flapjack, rice cake, breadstick. They do not graze constantly on chocolate, processed crap, crisps and sweets.

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