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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.

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.


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

Sorry, working link 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.

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