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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Limit time on laptops/I pads/computer games.

More time out in the garden/in the park.

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

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

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

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

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

A special emergency tax on sugar and processed fruit.

Birdsgottafly Wed 07-Aug-13 14:41:49

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

I would also say disposable income and consumerism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accept that a modern size 14 is overweight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 07-Aug-13 15:45:08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 07-Aug-13 15:52:20

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

MrsTerryPratchett Wed 07-Aug-13 15:53:16

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

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

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

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