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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.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Wed 04-Jul-12 17:15:18

Yes, I hate the breakfast cereals mainly marketed for children. My children have never had the sugary ones, just a choice from the plainer ones of cornflakes, weetabix, rice crispies etc. I will allow cheerios or crunchy oat style ones, but no sweeter than that for breakfast !

My DFather has "crunchy nut" (really "sugar coated") cornflakes for breakfast every day. DS is only allowed them when we're staying at DGP's (therefore as a treat - even then I'm really not keen at all) It just doesn't seem like breakfast to me ! Mind you we often have lovely scrambled egg made by my Mum too when we're there - that'll really set you up for a good day smile

SpringGoddess Thu 05-Jul-12 07:58:55

EarlyBird diabetes project studies suggest that increased exercise had no impact on overall activity and calories expenditure - the outcome of their study suggested that a child who is more active at school will be less active at home and vice versa - almost like our activity levels are pre-wired to a certain level.

Given this and the fact that energy burn through exercise is a pretty insignificant weapon when used to fight energy consumption for sugary foods why is it always sighted as the main solution? Look how long it takes you to eat a piece of cake at 500kcals in comparison to how long it takes to run it off- probably over an hour of sustained moderate to high intensity exercise - not to mention the fact that exercise can often increase appetite, I don't think it's the solution.

I think exercise is great for kids for all sorts of reasons but I do not believe it's the solution to the obesity crisis - most of us are not atheletes and most of us, kids included do not wish to run around all day, clearly some do but they are not the kids we are concerned with.

Nope I think we all know why we are all getting obese - the shitty food we are eating, laden with refined carbs, sugar call it what you like - its a modern addiction. Kids and adults continually stuff their faces with refined carbohydrates and sugar filled food from breakfast to supper - blood sugar highs and lows all day. It's not surprising many people compulsively eat to combat blood sugar lows with more sugar.

I feel very annoyed that we are spending an absolute fortune on the olympics under the pretence that this is all about promoting sport - what a joke, sponsored by supersized McDonalds and tooth rotting diabetes inducing Coca Cola - are we really trying? Clearly the obesity epidemic is not costing us enough - yet!

The Gov put everything down to the individual which is convenient for the Gov and the food industry but given that the population as a whole is getting increasing fatter there is something beyond the individual but we can banging on about personal responsibility and nothing will change.

I think the change 4 life programme is a waste of money - it's the same old rubbish we've been fed since the 1980's and it hasnt worked - has that old horse been well and truly flogged. It's time we took a new direction.

Check out this presentation The Food Revolution, from a Swedish Doctor gives a clue to what is really going wrong.

[http://www.dietdoctor.com/]

SpringGoddess Thu 05-Jul-12 08:12:10

Sorry, working link www.dietdoctor.com/ smile

stickygotstuck Thu 05-Jul-12 13:38:51

Interesting post SpringGoddess.

Good question, sittingbull, I was going to ask exactly the same.

Following on from that, my question is, to what a degree can children be trusted to self-regulate their appetites?

I have a 3.5 year old daughter and I worry myself sick that I am making a big deal out of nothing. I watch her like a hawk because of personal history (below) and she does seem to overeat compared to other children her own age. She is not fat at all, although she seems "heavier"/ more "solid" than other kids. It worries me and I feel guilty that I was not able to exclusively breastfeed, and wonder if that's why! I was bottle fed myself.

Background to this - I am and have always been slightly overweight, even after I was put on a "diet" (i.e. basically restrictions - no fried foods, no bread, no biscuits, no sweets, no fizzy drinks, etc.) by GP when I was not much older than my DD is now (was more seriously overweight then). That went on until my teens, and food IS a big deal for me - it makes me feel guilty.

I am healthy, have a good diet, generally avoid junk/heavily processed foods, excercise moderately and am still sligthly overweight. I do have big portions and the the odd treat though. Years of treats being "forbidden" have made me crave them. And I have a big appetite naturally. Would hate to see history repeat itself.

MoJangled Thu 05-Jul-12 13:54:01

Similar question from me: at what age does a problem with childhood obesity typically present?

DS is 20mo and over the 75th centile for height. Not sure on weight but I suspect he's proportionately heavy for his height - not fat, just solid. I BF for 5 months and then had to stop as I was having an operation. At the health check following the switch to bottles, he had crossed 2 centile lines for weight and the HV warned me that this was an indicator for obesity. Now I focus on keeping eating varied, fun, healthy and sociable, and leave him to regulate intake and select what he eats from the options at the meal. At this age I'd be uncomfortable doing anything else, but I do wonder whether I ought to be keeping a closer eye on weight.

Lambethmum Thu 05-Jul-12 14:02:45

Is it possible for babies to be born obese? If it is, is that just their fate? I am skinny, my husband is large, and we have two children. One is short (2nd percentile), and at his 1st year check I was told by a health visitor he was obese and had been from birth (50th for weight). She suggested a diet to bring his weight down to the 2nd percentile, which we ignored - he eats healthy food and has remained on the 50th percentile for weight. A GP brought up my second son's obesity when he was 3 months old (now 5 months )- he was born and remains on 91st percentile for height and weight. I eat well and breastfeed and have ignored the advice the GP gave - to cut out breastfeeds and give water or fruit juice(!) instead. Should health professionals really be advising parents that exclusively breastfed babies and very young babies need to diet?

sheeplikessleep Thu 05-Jul-12 14:39:21

I also want to ask Stickygotstucks question too.

DS1 is 4.9 and 50th for height, 75th for weight (although that was a few months ago, not sure now). He loves food and his CM once said "he doesn't seem to have an 'I'm full' switch". He always seems hungry for food.

He has what I think are healthy family meals (his favourites are spag bol, roasts, veg pasta, salmon etc), only 'processed' meals once a week if that (and then sausages / fish fingers) and he has either yoghurt or fruit for desserts. He tends to have sandwiches or beans / egg on toast type food for lunch. He only really has crisps or biscuits at the weekend.

BUT, I worry that he is still a bit 'chunky'. We get out everyday to the park, zoo or wherever. He is constantly on the go. I also try to watch his portion size, as I know I'm overly generous with me / DHs meals and I want to be careful with DSs. They seem to eat a comparable portion size to his peers, certainly dished up amount. It's just DS1 always finishes his and asks for more. He just loves food. How much do I rely on him to regulate his own intake?

KiddyCookLeeds Thu 05-Jul-12 14:46:24

The health visitors where I live are increasingly frustrated by the pressure to focus on breastfeeding mothers and feel that bottle feeding mothers are left with little or no information on how much and how often to feed their baby, resulting in overfeeding from an early age. How do you think we should tackle this problem whilst supporting the breast is best campaign?

NessaRose Thu 05-Jul-12 14:59:20

At my DS2's school they are not allowed crisps, chocolate, biscuits in their lunch box.
DS2 is underweight (and losing) due to severe reflux. The consultant has said that he needs a full fat high cal diet.
The school keep taking food out of his lunchbox saying it's not fair on the other children.
Can you please give me some pointers on healthy but high cal foods that can go in his lunchbox? Thanks.
(I do know why the school have the policy but in this situation it's very frustrating.)

NessaRose Thu 05-Jul-12 14:59:21

At my DS2's school they are not allowed crisps, chocolate, biscuits in their lunch box.
DS2 is underweight (and losing) due to severe reflux. The consultant has said that he needs a full fat high cal diet.
The school keep taking food out of his lunchbox saying it's not fair on the other children.
Can you please give me some pointers on healthy but high cal foods that can go in his lunchbox? Thanks.
(I do know why the school have the policy but in this situation it's very frustrating.)

NessaRose Thu 05-Jul-12 15:00:13

blush double post sorry phone playing up. blush

TimeForMeAndDD Thu 05-Jul-12 15:11:47

At DD's school healthy packed lunches are encouraged but the teachers give out sweets and biscuits as rewards and incentives!! hmm

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Thu 05-Jul-12 15:49:37

LambethMum - My DS has been very fit and slim since toddler-hood (is now 10) but he definitely went through quite a podgy stage as a baby - like a Sumo wrestler ! I don't know what percentile he was ever on (though did once know his birth and post-birth stats ). No-one ever expressed any concern to me which I'm quite glad about really, although I wouldn't have minded discussing it eg with HV if it had been done gently and helpfully - anyway continued breastfeeding on demand, which was quite often, and he just evened himself out nicely as he hit toddler stage.
I think babies, toddlers, children, and adults can all be surprisingly good at self-regulating their calorific intake if eating remains a natural, sociable experience, with natural foods ie. without undue influence of food multi-nationals and the focus on making a profit from consumers.

nicolamary Thu 05-Jul-12 17:03:28

Where can I get help for my 5yo? She is on the 105percentile for height but 115 for weight. Two GP's have checked her out, looked at her diet and said they're not overly concerned. However, the health visitors had a different take and wanted her referred. She is overweight, and I'm very conscious of this. However, I also don't want to make her paranoid. She always has breakfast (porridge, weetabix or eggs), packed lunches (so I know what she's getting) and a home cooked meal in the evening. She only drinks milk or water and loves fruit and veg. Even her teacher has commented on how healthy her lunches are compared to others who bring in crisps and chocolate despite them being banned at school. She is in aged 8-9 clothes and has a pot belly. In terms of exercise she does two dance classes a week and swimming once a week too. She also plays out in the cul de sac with the other 12 children on our road. In terms of her appetite it's large, she does ask for 2nd's and she's a foody, she will try anything from mussels to spicy foods. I try to find a balance between knowing when she's being a greedy guts and is still hungry but it's hard to gauge. I'm at my wits end, I've been concentrating on her diet for the best part of 2 years and she hasn't slimmed down at all. I don't think she drinks enough and am always encouraging her to take in more water.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Thu 05-Jul-12 17:20:32

Just to say that all sounds very impressive nicolamary - GP's have sais not overly concerned so that has to be good ? Wish I lived with you - it sounds great grin

savemefromrickets Thu 05-Jul-12 17:30:48

DS's dad had a severe weight problem, think size 54+ waist, so I was determined to bf DS to give him the best start in life, and to help him regulate his intake.

It hasn't worked at all. DS was off the charts in height and weight since birth. He's 6 and is now very tall (he looks like an 8 year old) but is still chunky round the torso. He's self conscious about it and I hate hearing him describe himself as fat.

He absolutely does not have an off switch, and the years of two course meals at nursery and school have made him convinced that every meal has to have a pudding. I don't feel like he has a healthy attitude to his body at all.

I feel like I've failed him and don't know how to put it right. He's active at school and after school club, and although he has a good go at being a couch potato, he doesn't really get away with it at the weekends.

I've started taking him swimming more in the hope that weight free exercise is the way forward. What else can you recommend? I did call the PCT for advice, but they didn't come back to me.

lovelydogs Thu 05-Jul-12 17:33:37

Nicolamary I have the same problem, my 10yr old DD is overweight but she loves food. It's getting worse though. I try to make sure everything is healthy but as a vegetarian I struggle to find foods that contain enough protein to fill her up. I have only very recently discovered (within the last couple of weeks) that her high carb (she loves a jacket spud) diet could be the problem. The last webchat and posts from BWIW(hope I got that right)have been real eye openers. She also has a lot of fruits (high sugar?) These were all the things I believed to be healthy.

I dont know her height or how much she currently weighs she is just above average for height and well over 7 stone, absolutely none of her clothes fit for her age group and i often buy her s/m aduts wear. I really worry about diabetes.

I have been concentrating on her diet for the last year and nothing has changed, just got worse. She's fairly active so dont think it's that although I'm shocked that a lot of people say it's not much to do with exercise.

She'll have breakfast, which could be scrambled eggs on toast, porridge, normal full fat yogurt with berries drizzled with agave necter that kind of thing. A snack (!) at school at break time often fruit. Lunch, again struggle with the vegetarian issue so could be Quorn chicken slices with green leaves on seeded bread sarnie. Bunch of grapes, some berries, maybe the healthiest looking cereal bar and small yogurt. She'll come out of school STARVING (her words!!) and raid the fridge, usually fruit or choc spread sarnie or peanut butter. Then have dinner. (Normal veggie dinner)

Where am I going wrong??!!

nicolamary Thu 05-Jul-12 20:06:14

Lovelydogs I despair I really do. I see the children on the street with sweets, crisps, chocolates and they are like rakes.

Today my daughter has had

Breakfast: Porridge oats with semi skimmed milk, drizzle of honey
Snack: Banana
Lunch: home made celery soup, 2 pieces of 400g (small) granary bread, grapes and a babybel
Dinner: Home made roast chicken, chantenay carrots, mashed potato, mushy peas, gravy. Yoghurt.

Drinks: Water and glass of milk before bed

It's so upsetting I agree.

SpringGoddess Thu 05-Jul-12 20:31:28

nicolamary have you looked at my link to the diet doctor?

Looking at you dcs diet it's high in starch and sugar and that will encourage hunger and weight gain. Would try to reduce carbs - not go carb free but reduce the size of the portion of starchy foods and increase protein and fats to give her a fuller feeling for longer.

I know it sounds mad to increase her fat intake but it has sound scientific reasoning behind it - something you need to satisfy yourself with by reading around theory, my link below is a great place to start. The Gov low fat - high carb mantra is failing the nation. sad

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Thu 05-Jul-12 20:57:52

Lovelydogs - we're all vegetarian too, and I just wanted to offer a suggestion that in the west we all tend to eat much more protein than we need anyway (as it's found in things like bread as well as eggs, cheese, meat etc), so perhaps some meals/snacks you offer could be lighter on protein without any ill effect ?

I know we eat too much cheese in our family - yesterday I disciplined myself a bit to have tofu with noodles and bean sprouts and broccoli, and leave out the sprinkling of cheese on top for a change !

nicolamary Thu 05-Jul-12 21:30:32

Thanks SpringGoddess I will take a look. Going high fat does go against all your instincts but I'm open to anything.

SpringGoddess Thu 05-Jul-12 22:04:20

Lovelydogs will your dd eat tofu, eggs, full fat cheddar - they are all good sources of protein and will give your dd that fuller feeling for longer. I have a great low carb veggie book by Celia brooks brown, it's out of print but you can still get it second hand - the recipes are fabulous. We make things like savoury cheesecake - to die for, tomato & artichoke stew, frittata...I love that book....the beauty of low carb is that you don't spend half your day feeling hungry and cravings are reduced because your blood sugar levels are stable...your dd will forget to eat because she won't feel anywhere near as hungry.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Thu 05-Jul-12 22:45:54

I instinctively feel that things like no fat yogurt are not only unnecessary but actually don't feel right. A lovely natural yogurt just feels like it's doing you so much good !

Hervana Thu 05-Jul-12 22:57:04

What are your thoughts on BMI index particularly in relation to children?

DS was born on 90th centile in red book and stayed there until he was two. Health visitors loved him being so 'big' lots of healthy weight comments, he never really dropped weight even as a newborn (he was exclusively breastfeed til 6 months then baby led weaned btw)

So imagine my shock when we recently recieved the healthy start letter from school at the start of the year (DS now just turned 5) stating that DS was very overweight and 98 on the bmi index. I don't get it? These messages seem very mixed to me

DS father is very well built and always will be perhaps my DS is too? He certainly doesn't seem overweight I can see his ribs when he is undressed!

Is using BMI a good way to ascertain overweight children? How does using the BMI index correlate to the weight gains etc used in the red book?

StillSquiffy Thu 05-Jul-12 23:05:17

I'm another one at my wits end. DS is not yet 9 but weighs 46kg (he is 142cm). He is constantly hungry and would eat like a horse given half a chance.

I've tried to regulate the quality of what goes in (scrambled eggs & bacon breakfast, healthy cooked school meal - private school and v high quality - and pretty healthy evening meal - roast/chicken & salad/salmon & greens). Water or milk (with one small glass of juice allowed a day). Generally lollies or yogurt for pudding. The problem is not quality, it is quantity - he is hungry, hungry, hungry.

Because GH and I have been low GL/low carb for years, we also limit the carbs and sugar quite a bit (not fully - he is allowed a bit of pasta here and there, pizza once a week, and desert once a day). We simply don't know what to do next. He is the most active child I know - 14.5 hours of hard sport a week (squash, swimming, rugby, footie, karate, tennis), and there is simply no more room in the day for him to do any more sport. He tries so hard and still he goes to sleep crying sometimes because his classmates call him 'tubs' and 'chubbers'. He's even asked his teachers at school to oversee his food selection instead of just diving in like the other boys sad

An 8YO boy shouldn't be wearing age 14 clothes with a 32" waist, but I really have no idea what I can possibly do.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Thu 05-Jul-12 23:22:50

You could possibly consider missing out the puddings StillSquiffy ?

You mention "generally lollies or yogurt for pudding" & "desert once a day"
Does he get pudding at school ? If so does he have one at home too ?
Just a thought !

StillSquiffy Thu 05-Jul-12 23:47:37

No, he has one desert a day. If he has desert at school he will tell me and not have desert in the evening.

And yes, we have thought about making him not have deserts at all. But we'd then have to ask him to self-moderate and avoid all deserts at lunchtime, which TBH we think is a big ask of an 8yo, especially when all his friends are around him. We think it could end up with food issues for him (which are creeping in anyway, because he is so upset at being teased). At least this way he has a think, works out if he really wants gypsy tart or a fab lolly, and he usually chooses the lolly which TBH we think is OK. If it were just a question of deserts we would have got the whole problem licked (so to speak).

The bigger issue is when he eats one chicken breast, get half of another one for seconds and still wants more. And more.

tripletipple Fri 06-Jul-12 07:16:04

swanthing you say you found my comment about snacking "really odd". France was the first country in the EU to report a levelling out of childhood obesity after the government introduced regulations to tackle the problem some of which were targeted at stopping snacking such as, I believe, cutting out snack in nursery and removing vending machines from schools.
As another person who grew up in the 60s/70s and never snacked, I don't recall feeling hungry between meals. Your comments show that snacking has become so normalised in this country that some people believe it to be necessary.
I am interested to know PG's views on this.

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 08:39:34

tripletipple I agree with you on snacking - we are constantly feeding our kids - its like we fear them being hungry even for a second, there is nothing wrong with a child feeling hungry and looking forward to dinner. Constant snacking is bad for dental health too, it introduces a constant eating habit, I just don't see how it is necessary for most people.

stillsquiffy I feel for you and your ds that sounds awful. Like his appetite hormones are not working the way they should do. You say our ds would eat a second chicken breast - he'd be better to eat lots of chicken and some veg till he was full - lots of people who struggle to control their eating, do so naturally when they drop starch and sugar.

nicolamary Fri 06-Jul-12 08:48:09

SpringGoddess I watched the diet doctor video and had a look at the site last night, so interesting and the theory seemed sound. However, my question is this, do children need some carbs to maintain healthy development? Today I have sent my daughter to school with cooked chicken, ham and cheese in her lunchbox and no carbs. She had porridge for breakfast.

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 09:23:24

I can't answer that question nicola but my gut feel is that we are feeding our dcs too many carbs, you could try halving the portion of carbs and directly swapping it for more protein - especially wheat carbs. Dr briffa on the web chat the other day suggested a small portion of potato but that was not for an over weight child. I believe you need a small amount of glucose for the brain but the body can produce this from fats and proteins. Brain development requires essential fatty acids and on low carb you should get those in buckets!

By the same token don't over do the protein though, I'm not sure how much protein is too much for your dc....but excessive protein isn't good either for the kidneys. It would probably be best if you could find a sympathetic doctor or dietician to work out a lower carb diet for a child.

Lower carbing is a way of eating that is very sustainable - you don't feel hungry like on low calorie diets but I don't know how much research has been down into applying the theory to children's diets, it's still such a controversial area - even for diabetics where you'd think it would be readily accepted by doctors, my dad who is type 11 is still being told by dieticians to load up on carbs and then take drugs to control the damaging effect the carbs they have recommended cause - it makes me so angry!

Indith Fri 06-Jul-12 09:28:30

I'm interested in this lowcarb talk, we eat a Lot of pasta! Thankfully I think as a rule we have a pretty healthy diet and none of us has any weight issues. Could one of the low carb enthusiasts post a fairly normal family meal plan for a couple of days so we can see the sort of things you would eat to compare to our own diets?

PostBellumBugsy Fri 06-Jul-12 09:44:36

My questions for Professor Gately.

1. What profit did your company MoreLife make in the last financial year?

2. Looking at the MoreLife website the thrust of the advice seems to be eat less, exercise more. This is the advice that the NHS has been giving for the last 30 years & given the population is getting fatter & fatter, do you feel that this is good advice to give?

3. What are your views on the increasing evidence that suggests as populations start eating vast quantities of carbohydrate they get fatter, regardless of the exercise they do?

4. Historically, the traditional way to build an appetite, was to exercise - surely as you expend more energy, your body wants to replace it and therefore you get hungry after exercise? Equally, as you consume less calories, the metabolism slows down to conserve energy. Would it not be better to look at the change in food intake in the last couple of hundred years, and particularly in the last 40 years and address that?

5. Given that as a population, we have more access to recreational facilities and have more leisure time than ever before - why are we still getting fatter?

6. What are your views on the sponsorship by companies like Coca-Cola of sporting events, the British Dental Association and other nutrional organisations?

7. What are your views on the very successful lobbying campaign conducted by food manufacturers & in particular cereal manufacturers (such as Kellogs) to prevent Ofcom banning the advertising of junk foods to children?

vezzie Fri 06-Jul-12 09:54:52

Springgoddess - I agree about the snacking. I hate it when we are out with friends in the afternoon and someone produces "healthy" cereal bars. My 3yo dd has a very finite appetite and I know after she eats that she won't eat as much of the salmon and broccoli (say) I am going to put on the table in an hour's time. I actually believe that if people didn't go on about food so much - the constant babble of "health"-talk (half of which is wrongheaded) trying to compete with the constant babble of advertising from the people pushing this stuff - it wouldn't have occurred to my friends to pack a snack for a 90 minute play in the park. And I think we are expanding our children's appetites (in some cases - some people are more prone to feeling hungry than others, but those who are lucky enough to be without that impulse aren't without it for long in this culture, and I am afraid it will change my dd's appetite)
Don't get me wrong, if dd says she is hungry I will give her something. But she usually doesn't and there is no need to raise the issue. I feel it is constantly being raised for her, around her, and it is not in our or our children's interests.

So I suppose this is my cheeky second question (closely related to the first) - don't you think that all this talking about healthy eating adds to the problem? Even if the advice was good, the message is still: consume, consume, consume

berthabean Fri 06-Jul-12 10:15:32

My Question: Do you have advice for a parent of a 6 year old disabled child/wheelchair user rapidly gaining weight even though she doesn't graze or snack badly and I home cook all our meals and don't eat sugary cereals or have sugary drinks. I've changed from full fat milk to semi-skimmed but really need any other ideas and advice. Thankyou

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 10:17:26

I agree vessei I can't quite believe the amount of junk that gets handed over to dcs in the playground on meeting their mums or dads - they don't even seem able to wait till they get home. I overheard one mum practically force a cake on her chunky kid - the previous week she had been moaning to me about his endless appetite - what's going on there?

My dcs notice all the cake eating and complain that I don't bring along a bag of cakes everyday - but there is no way I am starting that, no way.

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 10:22:17

Thank you Postbellambugsy for asking the questions I should have asked rather than getting all ranty blush

Rather nervously I'm posting our weekly menu <gulp>

It's meant to be simple, dh is cooking due to me being ill!

Steak with chilli & garlic cauliflower and buttered courgettes - dcs had roast chicken with peas and salad pots - I wanted chicken leftovers for curry the next day and dcs struggle with steak.

Chicken korma served with green beans - dcs will have brown rice

Warm cauliflower, bacon, egg & spinach salad with steamed fish - dcs will either have salad potatoes or homemade wholemeal rolls ( made once a week and frozen)

Roasted pepper & preserved lemon salad with roast chicken - dcs will have some roast potatoes - always with skins on! Maybe something green in butter.

Steamed fish with fresh tomato & caper sauce with broc - potatoes for dcs

Shoulder of lamb with veg mash and green beans - dcs will have crushed potatoes and mint sauce.

Lamb curry using leftovers with cauliflower rice for adults and brown rice for dcs - although dcs like the cauliflower rice.

No processed cereals for breakfast.

lovelydogs Fri 06-Jul-12 10:27:44

Sorry, running out of the door..just wanted to say thanks to the people who replied to me yesterday and spring I will hunt that book down! This morning I recieved my Low GI Vegetarian cookbook (Dr Jennie Brand-Miller) which I assume is the same thing as low carb?

The other sunday I did a roast with all the trimmings (don't have it every sunday) my DD had a battered Quorn chicken fillet, she ate it and said it was a nice dinner but she could have eaten TWO fillets! shock

Will be interested in reading what is said regarding girls/puberty/overweight.

My DD (just 9) is above average height and above average weight for her age - according to paediatrician - not fat, but she is bigger than other girls her age, in height and 'size'. It bothers her hugely and it upsets me to see her upset. We have also just been told that she is on the cusp of puberty and to expect periods in the next year. She is 'budding' amongst other things. Her little body is changing shape and I want her to feel comfortable in her own skin.

We have written a food diary and it is perfectly healthy, lots of veggies, fish, fruit, salad, some sweets, some ice cream. Portion size seems to be fine too.

Total loss what to do to help my DD. She swims, trampolines (in garden) and we walk to school often.

Not sure what my question is, but hope you can help.

Indith Fri 06-Jul-12 10:44:57

Thanks SpringGoddess smile

I think looking at yout menu the first thing that springs to mind is cost. A heck of a lot of people cannot afford to feed their family in that way, the relatively large amounts of nice meat are out of the question. We do ok, we are not rich but we are not quite scrabbling down the back of the sofa for pennies and we eat stews, things with mince, bacon scraps. We do pad them out with a lot of lentils and beans. However I do think I need to be better at menu planning, making nice salads to go with the spag bol so we eat a bit less pasta and so on.

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 11:06:19

indith I completely agree with your comments about my weekly menu. It is not a normal week in this house, I am unwell so I planned a week of easy quick food which for dh evolves very few ingredients cooked with little prep.

I agree that menu planning makes things easier - I am relatively inexperienced when it comes to meat cooking, I want to learn how to cook the cheap cuts slowly to get the best flavour from them, I'll get there soon.

The roast chicken - I get 2 meals and the dcs lunch from and I make stock with the bones - nothing goes to waste.

Whatever we have the leftovers are eaten the next day and we make a basic creamy soup with the leftover veg we have. So while the ingredients for low carbing will always be more expensive you can work it so that very little is wasted.

Worth noting the relative cheapness of carbs has probably contributed to the obesity epidemic - see High Fructose Glucose Syrup and the subsidies it gets from the US Gov which make it cheap, cheap, cheap!

The week I had planned before i got ill looks slightly cheaper - I hope!

Low carb Mackeral fish cakes with green salad - pots for dcs
Low carb Moussaka with salad & green veg
Beef korma with cauliflower rice or brown rice
Savoury cheesecake with salad
Pumpkin curry with cauliflower rice or brown rice
Red pepper & goats cheese timbales with avocado & lemon salad
Day seven is always pot luck - using up stuff from the fridge

Indith Fri 06-Jul-12 11:11:37

I need to get the dcs into curries, they are great but one of the only things they are suspicious of! Last night we had a lovely bean stew with a couple of tins of beans, atin of tomatoes and a bit of chorizo. Yummy. I did give it to the dcs with a bit of pasta though. Sadly ds1 hates potato, always has. I love fish cakes, might make some for tonight actually, fish cakes green beans and rice smile

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 12:00:23

Alec Baldwin interviews Dr Robert Ludstig paediatric endocrinologist on the effects of insulin and sugar on obesity in children.

www.wnyc.org/shows/heresthething/2012/jul/02/

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 06-Jul-12 12:02:10

Paul Gately is about to join us and attempt to get through as many questions as poss over the next hour.

Just a quick note that MoreLife have FREE, week-long summer clubs running this school holiday; to see if they are available in your area, see j.mp/M8FBQ4

They also have FREE places available on their famous residential summer camp (in Yorkshire) for young people from Camden, Doncaster and North Yorkshire. To find out more about the camp see j.mp/KQGrQG (Conditions apply)

Over to you Prof Gately...

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:04:54

berthabean

My Question: Do you have advice for a parent of a 6 year old disabled child/wheelchair user rapidly gaining weight even though she doesn't graze or snack badly and I home cook all our meals and don't eat sugary cereals or have sugary drinks. I've changed from full fat milk to semi-skimmed but really need any other ideas and advice. Thankyou

Really difficult question, we have some expertise in working with disabled children but, there are few services or research in place. My advice would be to see food and activity as just parts of normal daily lifestyle. Keep positive on these behaviours and as you have already outlined you are doing many of the right things. Keep monitoring your child's behaviours just like you monitor their school work thier health and their overall well being. where you see the need for action read, gather information or ask for advice. good luck

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:05:57

Hi everyone, I'm looking forward to answering your questions. Lots in already i better get going!!

yolo Fri 06-Jul-12 12:07:26

Hey how can I hear this??? PLEASE HELP!!! confused sad

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:09:09

SpringGoddess

Alec Baldwin interviews Dr Robert Ludstig paediatric endocrinologist on the effects of insulin and sugar on obesity in children.

www.wnyc.org/shows/heresthething/2012/jul/02/

Yes sugar is very important issue. we are learning more and more about its impact on the body. It will always be part of our diet but it should be used sparingly in the diet as the eat well plate suggests.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:16:27

Hervana

What are your thoughts on BMI index particularly in relation to children?

DS was born on 90th centile in red book and stayed there until he was two. Health visitors loved him being so 'big' lots of healthy weight comments, he never really dropped weight even as a newborn (he was exclusively breastfeed til 6 months then baby led weaned btw)

So imagine my shock when we recently recieved the healthy start letter from school at the start of the year (DS now just turned 5) stating that DS was very overweight and 98 on the bmi index. I don't get it? These messages seem very mixed to me

DS father is very well built and always will be perhaps my DS is too? He certainly doesn't seem overweight I can see his ribs when he is undressed!

Is using BMI a good way to ascertain overweight children? How does using the BMI index correlate to the weight gains etc used in the red book?

BMI is a valuable tool, it really does help us address the issue of weight, by understanding where children are at in their development. Despite it's critics it has a range of benefits. We did a study recently that showed it is more likely to underestimate levels of weight rather than overestimate it, so its actually a conservative tool and unlikely to wrongly classify someone as overweight or obese when they are in the normal weight range

If you do get a letter or informed by a health professional, dont see it as a criticism its a piece of information that you can act upon. Just like their maths scores or SATs etc. Just like their maths scores beign able to improve through some lessons, so weight can change through a change in behaviours. Its an indicator and i would suggest assesment over time. MoreLife run a range of free services across the UK that helps parents deal with the weight issues of their chidlren. I would say look at our website if you are concerned.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:17:17

MyAmygdalaDidIt

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

Great question, if fact the evidence base shows that interventions for childhood obesity working with overweight and obese children are effective. This is in contrast to prevention programmes that often don’t show effective outcomes. But I think the prevention / treatment debate is slightly confused. What is the objective is the most important question, are we trying to prevention weight gain (primary prevention), or are we trying to prevent ill health (secondary prevention). Whilst they are linked, they are not the same thing. Obese children are at much greater risk of ill health so to prevent these consequences we must treat obesity in these children. Whilst you might be surprised to hear this, the action around obesity treatment is minimal. We have done an analysis of the investment made by government between 2005 and 2010. It shows that over that period of time government spent £5bn on primary prevention compared to £30m on treatment of childhood obesity (or secondary prevention).

It is widely accepted that about 33% of our children are overweight or obese, so it does seem strange that we spend 0.6% of the budget on 33% of children that are more likely to have health consequences of obesity. I strongly believe that both primary and secondary prevention are important, but I also think we need a better balance to help those children that really are in need. As an organisation that provides free weight management services to children and families across the UK, MoreLife are surprised by the lack of support despite the large need and demand for high quality services.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:19:17

StealthPolarBear

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

We basically need a plan, I think most of the plans that are put forward by government, (this one and the last) are wish lists rather than a clear plan. There is no one person (i.e. a minister) or organisation that is responsible for the issue, so it should not be a surprise that we are not doing a good job at tackling obesity. In addition to the lack of leadership, the resources that are made available are small. Obesity costs our society nearly as much as the interest payments on the national deficit (£35bn vs £43bn per year) but the government action is comparable. In most local government plans obesity is identified as a top 3 priority, however, there are often no funds to support services. I think it’s critical to get the systems right and not just blow hot air about the issue but take real action.

I would also say that we need to reframe how we view overweight and obese children and people. There is so much negativity about the issue that most obese people are demonised and stigmatised. These attitudes are both unfair and unhelpful. So I think the most important change we need is in attitudes towards the obese.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:21:41

lastnerve

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.

I believe play is very important, but many people do not realise why it’s important, they often think it’s about the calories that kids burn, actually I don’t think the calories burned is the biggest benefit of play. I believe play has a range of benefits which include, developing relationships, learning to win and lose, interact with other kids, learning rules and developing social skills that are really important for young children’s development.

In terms of food and eating habits they are also very important, although eating and food intake has a greater direct impact on weight gain of children.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:29:00

StillSquiffy

I'm another one at my wits end. DS is not yet 9 but weighs 46kg (he is 142cm). He is constantly hungry and would eat like a horse given half a chance.

I've tried to regulate the quality of what goes in (scrambled eggs & bacon breakfast, healthy cooked school meal - private school and v high quality - and pretty healthy evening meal - roast/chicken & salad/salmon & greens). Water or milk (with one small glass of juice allowed a day). Generally lollies or yogurt for pudding. The problem is not quality, it is quantity - he is hungry, hungry, hungry.

Because GH and I have been low GL/low carb for years, we also limit the carbs and sugar quite a bit (not fully - he is allowed a bit of pasta here and there, pizza once a week, and desert once a day). We simply don't know what to do next. He is the most active child I know - 14.5 hours of hard sport a week (squash, swimming, rugby, footie, karate, tennis), and there is simply no more room in the day for him to do any more sport. He tries so hard and still he goes to sleep crying sometimes because his classmates call him 'tubs' and 'chubbers'. He's even asked his teachers at school to oversee his food selection instead of just diving in like the other boys sad

An 8YO boy shouldn't be wearing age 14 clothes with a 32" waist, but I really have no idea what I can possibly do.

This is a great example of the challenges that are faced by many parents out there. thanks for your question, you are clearly working very hard to address what you rightly see as an issue. I would take the information and work out the BMI of your son. Then i would look for some help, at his age and with secondarys school on its way now is a critical period.

Fundamentally you are doing many of the right things, but you proably need some help so that you can get the energy balance right.

First step is to begin monitoring your sons, food intake and physical activity levels, you have provided some information, but I think in more detail is a really important first step.

It is critical that you tackle this as a team a family team, where everyone is working together. Like any team, if it doesnt work together it wont be successful. This means that your son should be bought into the process as much as everyone else. If he feels on his own then it wont work. I mention this as i often see this situation, where many of the family members try really hard to help, but its overwhelming! whilst the child in question is thinking, why dont they just give me a hug!!!!!! So teamwork is key.

I also believe kids even as young as 8 should own their own journey, you have clearly put boundaries in place and created a positive physical activity and helathy eating environment, so how does he want to address some of the issues is an important element of your journey?

The real problem for many parents is that there are not the local services to help. MoreLife run weight management services across the UK but not everywhere. Look on our website to see if there is a free service in your area.

Good luck, remember like the development of a child, and the support parents provide is over the course of life not just a few weeks. Physical activity and healthy eating behaviorus are the same they are lifelong behaviours.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:32:35

ohforfoxsake

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?

Wow what a tough question how long have I got?!

We do need lots of changes to the system; it is very complicated and involves a range of factors. We know that obesity is linked with a number of issues and I would say we need government commitment and action. I think public opinion is also important and I think that should be lead by much more empathy for overweight obese people and children. The negative attitudes I see and hear about are unfair and unhelpful, if people realised the negative impact they had on obese children and adults I don’t believe they would continue to have such negative views.

Food brands and fast food brands are interesting question, my view is that they are here to stay although over the last decade they have been making changes and will continue to make changes as customers change their preferences. A key factor is no food company is going to make and try to sell poor tasting food so it isn’t easy for them to change. I will be controversial now and say that the organic panic that has been created doesn’t help either. The problem for many companies is that the “consumer is asking for natural foods” which limits what food companies can do to reduce the energy content of foods without limiting taste.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:35:48

JugglingWithTangentialOranges

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.

Sounds like you are doing really well already
We think breastfeeding is important, however as you can appreciate it is very complicated and the behaviour of breastfeeding and what children learn from it will be part of a complicated mix of other genetic and environmental factors and what we call programming factors (i.e. what goes on during pregnancy).
Feeding and the establishment of behaviours at home is critical, don’t let food become a battleground. I would say the parents should provide the environment (what is available to eat etc) and the child should choose what they eat. If these roles are changed it will become hard and conflict will ensue.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:37:50

lovelydogs

Nicolamary I have the same problem, my 10yr old DD is overweight but she loves food. It's getting worse though. I try to make sure everything is healthy but as a vegetarian I struggle to find foods that contain enough protein to fill her up. I have only very recently discovered (within the last couple of weeks) that her high carb (she loves a jacket spud) diet could be the problem. The last webchat and posts from BWIW(hope I got that right)have been real eye openers. She also has a lot of fruits (high sugar?) These were all the things I believed to be healthy.

I dont know her height or how much she currently weighs she is just above average for height and well over 7 stone, absolutely none of her clothes fit for her age group and i often buy her s/m aduts wear. I really worry about diabetes.

I have been concentrating on her diet for the last year and nothing has changed, just got worse. She's fairly active so dont think it's that although I'm shocked that a lot of people say it's not much to do with exercise.

She'll have breakfast, which could be scrambled eggs on toast, porridge, normal full fat yogurt with berries drizzled with agave necter that kind of thing. A snack (!) at school at break time often fruit. Lunch, again struggle with the vegetarian issue so could be Quorn chicken slices with green leaves on seeded bread sarnie. Bunch of grapes, some berries, maybe the healthiest looking cereal bar and small yogurt. She'll come out of school STARVING (her words!!) and raid the fridge, usually fruit or choc spread sarnie or peanut butter. Then have dinner. (Normal veggie dinner)

Where am I going wrong??!!

Its hard to do a dietary analysis in real time, so I would suggest you spend some time recording food intake and physical activity. Also, what are your daughters views on the issue? have you talked about it? We find many parents who are scared to talk about weight issues with their kids. Unfortunately the message the kids are getting is that thier parents dont want to talk about it and are uhappy with them. Of course this is not the case and that is why communication is critical.

Parents are concerned they will do more harm than good and the kids just want someone to talk to about how they are feeling.

Once you have the information then you can start to look at ways to change things. But the plan should be long term. I think it is very sensible that you have been looking at the issue for the last year. You have outlined the last years efforts have not had an impact but the reality is the situation could have been much worse. so keep positive.

I would also check out her bmi as this will give you some indication of what to do next. We have a bmi calculator on our website www.more-life.co.uk If she is in the overweight range, then dont worry to much just carry on monitroing and supporting. If she is in the obese range then you proably need to look for some specialist help. This will help you get on the right track.

vezzie Fri 06-Jul-12 12:38:15

Hi Paul - looking at your 12.32 reply - do you really think that fake food is the answer? when you say "reduce energy content without limiting taste" do you mean artificially low fat? But as our food has become more artificially constructed, we have all got fatter. And "taste" is not what it is about. People don't eat 2500 calories a day because they like the taste, it is because they feel physically hungry (although they are putting fat on). the more low cal junk you eat, the hungrier you feel. I am terrified that views like yours have so much influence.
the mistake is thinking that it is possible or desirable to create foods you can eat all the time. The answer is to empower people - physically (by good food) and pyschologically (a very complicated thing) not to eat all the time, not to feel so hungry

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:38:21

Indith

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?

You raise an important question about knowledge and education. Unfortunately, there is limited nutritional education for teachers and other health and educational professionals so poor information is found everywhere. We spend a lot of time in our programmes trying to re-educate children and parents. This is because there is a lot of poor information out there that confuses many people.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:44:02

SittingBull

Question: at a very real level, what is the best way to ensure our children are a healthy weight?

My daughter is 6 and we encourage healthy eating and exercise and try to model this behavior also - however - there is a fine line between encouraging healthy living and being obsessive and actually causing a problem or a weight obsession. How do you know where the line is? How do I know I am not causing the problem?

Thanks in advance

This is a really important question. I think we often make food and weight such negative issues that it is no wonder children and parents are confused about what to do.

Many people are concerned about the development of poor eating behaviours of their kids or eating disorders.  The reality is that the development of eating disorders is very complex and influenced by a variety of factors. There is still a lot to be understood about them.  There are concerns of course but the research evidence shows that good quality information on healthy eating and physical activity delivered in a supportive environment and in a positive way are unlikely to be contributing factors.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:49:54

vezzie

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?

Love this question, very considered!! I think there is a lot that needs to be done; attempts to do this have not been as effective as they can be. My own personal view on this is that the government and the food industry seem to take adversarial positions and I don’t think that is helpful. I think the responsibility deal in the UK has had limited impact because the questions you are asking are also unclear at that level. There is an awful lot to consider.
I think we must be realistic and we must move forward and not look to move backwards. I mean, the food industry is in business to make money, and government are in place to look after the interests of our whole society. But consumers/voters are very powerful and can influence both government (particularly in these days) and companies by what they buy.
This debate will continue for a long time, I believe the companies that invest in this agenda for the future will be more successful. Those that don’t change with the times will become extinct!!!

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:51:24

vezzie

Hi Paul - looking at your 12.32 reply - do you really think that fake food is the answer? when you say "reduce energy content without limiting taste" do you mean artificially low fat? But as our food has become more artificially constructed, we have all got fatter. And "taste" is not what it is about. People don't eat 2500 calories a day because they like the taste, it is because they feel physically hungry (although they are putting fat on). the more low cal junk you eat, the hungrier you feel. I am terrified that views like yours have so much influence.
the mistake is thinking that it is possible or desirable to create foods you can eat all the time. The answer is to empower people - physically (by good food) and pyschologically (a very complicated thing) not to eat all the time, not to feel so hungry

It depends what the objective is. I agree the way food is processed has had an influence on our nations weight. But this is not the only factor. Food availablity (including "natural food") has increased, the fact that food can be stored in friddges or freezers, supermarkets are open 24 hours all contribute to our consumption of food. Portions have increased. We drink more fruit jucie which has the same calories as soft drinks!!!

At the end of the day calories are key, we have to look at this big picture. I spend lots of my time working with families and children, often they are so confused about what they should and should not do, that they give up as whatever they do is wrong in their eyes. We do need to empower them, but in my view that does not mean we can do away with the food industry and change our food system!! I believe we need to work with all tools and if that includes continued food develoment or as you put it "fake food" then I believe this will be necessary for many people that will be unable for a variety of reasons to eat a "healthy diet"

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:53:44

A lot of people have asked questions about snacking. The evidence on snacking shows that it does contribute to weight gain, probably more than anything else. But what does snacking mean and when does it become a problem are also important questions.
I was interested to see how many mumsnetters are informed about the range of issues that exist. All of the comments are important and show just how complicated it is. We are clear that snacks are important in weight gain, but we are unclear what types of snacks in what proportions, as part of what diet or lifestyle, for what age group. Therefore we have to rely on informed opinion, which includes things like healthy snacks.
It should be noted though that the calories in fruit is pretty much the same as the calories in sweets or the sugars in snacks. So from an energy balance perspective we need to make sure that overall total calories are considered. The evidence on the impact of 5 a day as a way of managing weight is disappointing and shows that people don’t tend to substitute their more energy dense snacks (chocolate, sweets, crisps, cake) for less energy dense snacks (fruit, veg); they just add it on top. Therefore everything in moderation especially those energy dense snacks!!

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:57:02

nicolamary

SpringGoddess I watched the diet doctor video and had a look at the site last night, so interesting and the theory seemed sound. However, my question is this, do children need some carbs to maintain healthy development? Today I have sent my daughter to school with cooked chicken, ham and cheese in her lunchbox and no carbs. She had porridge for breakfast.

A lot of people have asked about the necessity of carbs in diet. The last decade has seen real debate about carbs and how good or bad they are. Often this debate is badly described which confuses many people and leads to a variety of poor eating practices. We need to consider what we are talking about. There are different types of carbs and they are not all good or all bad. We need carbohydrates in our diet full stop. We of course need protein and fat too. The issue is about the balance of them. The research does show that protein has an effect on appetite and that is why a higher protein and/or low carb diet is promoted. Of course fat comes into play too.
We use the Eat Well Plate as a way of helping children balance their food intake. This includes a mixture of carbohydrate, fat and protein in appropriate portions. I would argue we don’t get the basics of this right, before we move to weird and wonderful diets that include no or low carbs.
The issue of carbs is important; there are many different type of carbs or sugars. Simple Carbs, like the sugar we have in soft drinks or table sugar, are different to complex carbs like pasta, rice, fruit, veg and bread. Our bodies respond differently to these different types of carbs, in addition, even within the complex carbs there can be big differences, for example wholemeal bread contains more fibre than white bread. These differences are important as they relate to the way the body uses these carbs.
We could do a whole webchat just on this topic, basically, carbs are good and not bad. Simple sugars should be used or consumed sparingly, and carbs that include fibre are the best forms.

vezzie Fri 06-Jul-12 12:58:39

Paul, thank you for your answers. I disagree though because I think we do need to change our "food system" - I think we need to do exactly that, because at the moment we are sacrificing human beings by placing business first. I think it is defeatist to say, oh well, the food industry have to make money so let everyone else struggle and maybe die, except a few lucky individuals with the will and the education and the metabolism to somehow get through.
Also I think it is very sad that you say "many people that will be unable for a variety of reasons to eat a "healthy diet"" - really? What reasons? Why accept that many - not some, many - can't just eat normally, modestly, healthily?

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 12:59:32

nicolamary

Thanks SpringGoddess I will take a look. Going high fat does go against all your instincts but I'm open to anything.

Hi it goes against instincts as it is not the right way to go!!! The issue is not high carb and low fat vs low carb. It is obviously more complicated than that. The evidence base and the guidance from government and organisations like the British Dietetic Assocation is sound. It's the implmentation of this guidance that is not done well, thats the problem. In addition, there are plenty of people out there that are trying to look for a magic bullet!!! Unfortunately one doesnt exist! That doesn't mean we need to change what we and the wealth of evidence we have tells us to do!

The work we do at MoreLife tries to understand how we put the guidance into practice! When we do this we find that people are not putting into practice what they think they are! When we work with them and give them the skills to change their bheaviours they are effective at weight loss and weight loss maintenance.

try refining what you are doing, dont look for a completely new path is my view!!

StillSquiffy Fri 06-Jul-12 13:00:26

Surely the biggest problem with snacks is that it is impossible to have healthy 'on the hoof' snacks and mums are forever bussing the kids from one activity to the next? It's easy enough to give my kids cucumber sticks and hummous when they are at home, but you can't pick up this kind of stuff in cafes and garages.

Are packs of nuts the answer? I am on the fence about nuts for kids - even though I am mostly convinced by the low carb argument, I still get worried about the very high calorie load and also the salt.... what's your view?

vezzie Fri 06-Jul-12 13:02:47

Paul, I know time is tight but I would love you to answer PostBellumBugsy's questions

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 13:03:01

Interesting view on white pasta - which Dr Briffa described in his webchat yesterday as having almost the same affect on the blood and insulin as sugar. Who is right?

StillSquiffy Fri 06-Jul-12 13:04:07

Sorry, should have said low net carb content in that post, am well aware unadjusted carb content v high.

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 13:05:16

vezzie

Paul, thank you for your answers. I disagree though because I think we do need to change our "food system" - I think we need to do exactly that, because at the moment we are sacrificing human beings by placing business first. I think it is defeatist to say, oh well, the food industry have to make money so let everyone else struggle and maybe die, except a few lucky individuals with the will and the education and the metabolism to somehow get through.
Also I think it is very sad that you say "many people that will be unable for a variety of reasons to eat a "healthy diet"" - really? What reasons? Why accept that many - not some, many - can't just eat normally, modestly, healthily?

I do believe the we need to change the food system, but this will take a long time to do, and the drivers to do it must be considered!!! I work with lots of children and adults. Changing the food system will not help him.

We know that finances, education, mental health, social circumstances all have an influence on peoples ability to eat a healthy diet. This is well established by the evidence base.!!

I certainly dont sit and accept the status quo, I work hard to contribute to changing these systems but it takes times!! I'm not a defeatist, just a realist !!

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 13:05:38

There are some great questions that have gone unanswered for which we will put some answers together and add to our blog next week. In the meantime, you can like us on facebook at facebook.com/morelifeuk or follow us on twitter @team_morelife for regular MoreLife updates.

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 13:06:24

So carbs have no effect on insulin levels and consequently fat storage, massively fluctuating blood sugar levels and consequently increased appetite - really?

vezzie Fri 06-Jul-12 13:07:23

Thankyou again Paul

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 13:07:53

StillSquiffy

Surely the biggest problem with snacks is that it is impossible to have healthy 'on the hoof' snacks and mums are forever bussing the kids from one activity to the next? It's easy enough to give my kids cucumber sticks and hummous when they are at home, but you can't pick up this kind of stuff in cafes and garages.

Are packs of nuts the answer? I am on the fence about nuts for kids - even though I am mostly convinced by the low carb argument, I still get worried about the very high calorie load and also the salt.... what's your view?

There are lots of snack options out there, i think they will continue to be provided by many retail outlets, the greater the demand the greater the supply!!! Nuts are great, but they are highly energy dense so should be considered as part of the overall energy balance!!

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 13:08:19

thanks everyone!!

SpringGoddess Fri 06-Jul-12 13:17:46

To sum up - eat less, move more and attend a Morelife activity - has anyone learned anything new? If that's all we've got why would a parent with an overweight child see a specialist - what exactly are they going to do - measure the child, work out their BMI, then ...... what? oh yes eat less move more - right back to where we started.....am I missing something?

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 06-Jul-12 13:21:34

The webchat is now closed. Thanks Paul for joining us today.

lostmywellies Fri 06-Jul-12 13:26:26

"the holy grail of healthy eating is a blithe indifference to food for most of the day"

Brilliant, vezzie; I love that! I am going to memorise it!

PostBellumBugsy Fri 06-Jul-12 13:35:06

Oh - not one single one of my questions answered. hmm

BIWItheBold Fri 06-Jul-12 13:58:10

What a surprise, PBB hmm

ohforfoxsake Fri 06-Jul-12 15:05:52

hmm is all I have to say.

StarlightWithAsteroid Fri 06-Jul-12 15:11:05

Did I miss the breastfeeding bit?

goodasgold Fri 06-Jul-12 16:49:02

I thought the questions were good.

RebeccaMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 06-Jul-12 17:55:05

yolo

Hey how can I hear this??? PLEASE HELP!!! confused sad

Hi Yolo,

Apologies for getting to this late.
Our webchats are available online to read, there is no audio version.

If we can help any further with this, then please do mail us contactus @ mumsnet.com

AdventuresWithVoles Fri 06-Jul-12 18:08:59

I thought there was loads in there that I wouldn't have known & that was good food for thought. Like the 5-a-day recommendation leads to extra calories, not subbing healthier things for lower nutrition snacks. The nuanced view that not all carbs are the same. And that children should own a weight problem if they have it.

I snack all the time, I come from a family of fatties (by my age, anyway, mid 40s). I eat lots of carbs. I am relatively slender (BMI under 20). So no firm rules for everyone.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Fri 06-Jul-12 19:32:56

After a quick scan through of these "answers" I do slightly feel that he came across as a little surprised that "mumsnetters" aka "Mums" would have such thoughtful and well informed questions. Brings out the feminist in me where men are seen as the experts, and equally well-informed women are helped and advised with their problems. (So, perhaps I'm being slightly unfair as I acknowledge this is his field of expertise - but as an early years professional I have a professional view too and have given these issues some careful thought) Perhaps it's something inherent in the Q&A format to some extent. But I think some of the problem stems from the approach taken by Paul.

I'd like to have seen more acknowledgement of the good ideas contained within the questions and comments. Reminds me just slightly of the Barnardo's webchat. Just because we have DC's doesn't mean we don't have a brain !
And just because we are mothers doesn't mean we don't have other roles and experiences to draw on smile

PaulGately Fri 06-Jul-12 21:28:00

JugglingWithTangentialOranges

After a quick scan through of these "answers" I do slightly feel that he came across as a little surprised that "mumsnetters" aka "Mums" would have such thoughtful and well informed questions. Brings out the feminist in me where men are seen as the experts, and equally well-informed women are helped and advised with their problems. (So, perhaps I'm being slightly unfair as I acknowledge this is his field of expertise - but as an early years professional I have a professional view too and have given these issues some careful thought) Perhaps it's something inherent in the Q&A format to some extent. But I think some of the problem stems from the approach taken by Paul.

I'd like to have seen more acknowledgement of the good ideas contained within the questions and comments. Reminds me just slightly of the Barnardo's webchat. Just because we have DC's doesn't mean we don't have a brain !
And just because we are mothers doesn't mean we don't have other roles and experiences to draw on smile

Not at all, I'm sorry that was your interpretation of my responses. Mums tend to be the family members I interact with most as they seem to be involved most in their childs weight loss challenges. After 20 years working in this field I totally recognise their knowledge, skills and expertise. Indeed much of my insight is gained from real life situations articulated to me by mums and the children and young people i have worked with.

I recognise that raising some of these issues can be a challenge for many as its a personal and sensitive issue. So some of my comments were made with consideration of such challenges and a recognition of the bravery needed to raise them even in an anonymous forum.

Sometimes there were responses or comments that we not supported by science and I strongly believe it is critical to challenge such misperceptions. I was not being dismissive of the responses, and apologies for anyone who felt I was.

I must admit it was the first time I have done this, I did enjoy it but it was a challenge to consider and respond quickly to the questions and comments posed. In fact each of the questions could have a whole day focused on them as a webchat. This is one of the problems with this issue and why we need more things like this.

JugglingWithTangentialOranges Fri 06-Jul-12 21:45:29

Thanks for your reply, Paul.

Perhaps I was a little disappointed too that you didn't have more to say on my query of the role of breast-feeding in regulating the appetites of babies, children, and beyond (into adult life) ?

mumdraw Mon 09-Jul-12 12:13:13

I think one of the problems is 'portion sizes' . I think many parents are unclear on these. On a recent school trip I noticed that the majority of the kids did have a healthy packed lunch, but there was just too much food. Most had adult portion sizes. Perhaps some clear guidelines on how much to actually feed children would help. We are also still have the hang up from our parent's generation where 'finishing your plate' is seen as important. It is if the portion size is right!

vnmum Tue 10-Jul-12 14:15:20

just read this, i'm late I know.
To be honest it is the same old tripe being repeated again. Follow the government guidelines - because thats worked so far, right hmm, we need carbs full stop - again I would question that to some degree, and if the government guidelines aren't working then you are not following them properly hmm

More sense on the Dr John Briffa webchat!

lovelydogs Tue 10-Jul-12 17:59:42

It is important to talk about and I do have strange conversations with my dd.
Her: Am I fat?
Me: No
Her: Yes I am look!
Me: You've got a tiny bit of extra weight that's all
Her: So I am fat?
Me: No, you could do with losing an incy bit that's all
Her: What, of fat??
Me: No!

So in answer to your Q's to me Paul we do talk about it in a round about manner. She knows she is overweight and hates it. But I haven't the heart to call her "Fat"! Thanks for answering my Q.

demoskats Fri 01-Feb-13 11:24:29

Hello, I am a student at sussex university and I'm currently investigating the effects of video games on childhood obesity. My goal is to take techniques used in the game industry and utilize them to engage children in group games with active nature, so they exercise with friends while having fun. I have prepared two surveys that you can complete online and help me with my research. Your input is crucial for this project and if you have some time to spare please fill them in.
Thank you in advance, Demos

Ps if anyone is interested in finding more about this project please contact me on dk228@sussex.ac.uk

Link to survey for parents: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XGFSTMC
Link to survey for children: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XPMSLCR

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