/ Food & Drink, Health, Parenting

The Government is in denial about childhood obesity

Sweets and children

The long-awaited childhood obesity strategy has finally been published. But is it really enough to tackle obesity in the UK?

It’s now a plan, rather than strategy, and it’s generally been criticised on all fronts – including from Which?, for failing to sufficiently tackle the seriousness of the problem we face.

Putting it into context – two thirds of the population are overweight or obese, and that also extends to around a third of 10-11 year olds.

We’ve had various strategies and plans from various governments over the years – but we continue to have one of the highest rates of obesity in the world.

Childhood obesity strategy

Obesity affects people’s quality of life, it leads to other health conditions (such as diabetes and cancers) and also has huge implications for the economy and health service.

We know from our research that most people have a pretty good idea what they should be eating. It’s putting it into practice that’s the problem.

There are a wide range of factors that influence our health choices, so it’s fair to say there’s no straightforward solution.

However, the scale of promotions for unhealthy foods repeatedly comes out as an area where people tell us they think action would help.

Whether it’s the balance of healthier price promotions in supermarkets, sweets at checkouts or the foods that are marketed to children through packaging, on-line and a whole host of other techniques – our research shows that the odds are too often loaded towards the unhealthy, rather than the healthy.

So that’s what’s really disturbing about this new plan. There’s no mention of tackling the way that foods are promoted at all.

There will, however, be a focus on trying to reduce sugar in foods that children are most likely to eat through a sugar levy. There’s also targets aimed at lowering sugar levels by 20% – which is good to see, although there are no targets to be set for reducing fat.

Companies are also being asked to innovate to develop healthier foods, the public sector food providers are being asked to offer healthier options and menus will be developed for early years providers.

Tackling obesity

So lots of requests and reliance on voluntary action. But we are way beyond that point.

We needed decisive Government action to really commit to helping to tackle this problem, but they have side-stepped one of the main areas where action was desperately needed.

Do you think the Government should rethink the childhood obesity strategy?

Yes, it's not good enough (77%, 2,551 Votes)

No, it's not their responsibility (18%, 590 Votes)

Not sure (3%, 113 Votes)

No, I think this will be enough (2%, 63 Votes)

Total Voters: 3,317

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Comments
Member

We owe it to the next generation to feed and take care of our children to preserve the continuation of our species.
I think Khalil Gibran sums it up very appropriately in his famous poem “On the Children.”

Your children are not your children,
They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you,
Yet they belong not to you

You may give them your love but not your thoughts
For they have their own thoughts
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

If interested the last verse can be located @ enotes.com – Khalil Gibran “On the Children”.

Member
Heather says:
22 August 2016

I am 82. My mother told me this and she had it from her mother – it is very beautifully put and we should all become familiar with it.

Member

Some interesting and useful comments above.

It sounds like most of us should eat less and exercise more.

Will “nanny state” be able to help us achieve this, given recent generations of policies designed to ensure cheap food for the masses, as part of a “you’ve never had it so good?” high standard of living?

If we think Governments should do more, how can this best be achieved?

Member
Simone Nelson says:
22 August 2016

I fear until government is not at the behest of the food lobby – they will not succeed in informing the public correctly.

Every week the media comes up with another food devil – how can the average person know how best to feed their children?

Member

Coca Cola (etc) seem a significant factor in the overweight problem. Mexico is apparently the fattest nation, heavily drenched in Coke particularly where there is a lack of local fresh water (according to a tv programme last year). It irked to see the 2012 and 2016 Olympics (all about fitness?) sponsored by Coke to the detriment of other suppliers, and of visitors’ sugar intake.

It may test the accusation of Governments being in the major suppliers’ pockets. Perhaps Which could report on the sugar content of a range of fizzy and “energy” drinks and run a campaign based on those that are unhealthy.

Member
Peter Hamilton says:
23 August 2016

The government and parents can all play their part but ultimately it comes down to profit. The barriers collapsed long ago and we are drenched in fast food and fizzy drinks along every high street. Healthier options are likely to be more expensive and less appealing to most young palates. Companies know they will not sell these products in such great volume and so higher prices are inevitable.
Balance helps and this includes moderating the time the young spend on phones, tablets and PCs when they could be engaging in sport. Again, what can the providers of these services do without detriment to their results?

Member

Forced to watch a couple of adverts last night. One was for Burger King; the man eating the burger was fat. The other was for a room freshener after the husband ate a huge burger; he was fat. A message there somewhere. If we want to see it.

Member
dieseltaylor says:
24 August 2016

Problem sorted
consumeraffairs.com/news/standing-desks-help-children-avoid-obesity-and-perform-better-in-school-082416.html
” Participating students were followed over the course of two school years to see if the stand-biased desks had any effect on their weight or academic achievement. At the end of the trial period, the researchers found that students with stand-biased desks had a 3% drop in BMI compared to students who gained the typical 2% in BMI due to aging.

Students who only spent one year with a stand-biased desk also benefitted from the experience, showing a lower mean BMI than students who never used them at all. Researchers attribute these results to encouraging active movement during class time.”

Member

We spent between £4million and £7 million for our elite athletes to win each medal at Rio. Good for them; it does the country good. None of them were fat (some were very well muscled) so clearly exercise is good for your body. I would like to see a good chunk of that money spent benefiting a much greater number of people, starting with children in school
– I’d like to see mandatory exercise supervised by qualified people,
– I’d like to see competitive sports played in school in reasonable facilities,
– I’d like to see local sensibly priced sports centres where any child could go to pursue their interests
– from where talented people could be taken, if they wish, to further training for the benefit of UK competition.
It’s essentially National Lottery money that many of us pay into. It needs spending more widely. We might then see fewer fat kids and less obesity in future generations. Adults may be past educating, but our children are not; we should be looking out for them before it is too late.

Member

In the same vein it would be a good idea to make all Council-run gyms free to use. And build more of them; the money to come from the vast sums that we’ll save as a consequence of Brexit and the surplus left from the NHS after they also benefit from the extra £360m per week they’ll be getting.

Member
Dana James says:
5 April 2017

Schools do have mandatory sport lessons and they do bring in experts. However, a child cannot go to the gym, until they are 16, by which time the problem is there. Slimming World now have young slimmers. I think the problem is that ‘healthy food’ is expensive. So is sgoing wimming and playing outside school sport. If these were free, or cheaper, less people would be overweight. No one wants to overweight, but u can’t always afford the tools in which to loose it.

Member
KarenH says:
25 August 2016

Where are all these so called obese children hiding? Its not my experience at the school gates to see very many, its a tiny minority. Most of the kids appear to be a healthy weight & come charging out of school full of energy. I wonder how the data is collected.

Member

I guess some of them can’t keep up and haven’t reached the gates by the time you and yours have got away, Karen! I think there are several demographic, societal and cultural influences behind the data and the picture is far from consistent across the country.

I don’t see much gross obesity in children but there are plenty of youngsters who are obviously overweight.

We were followed through a checkout earlier today by a couple of women with a young girl [about six or seven] who was helping them unload their trolley. The women were in their late twenties/early thirties and it is no exaggeration to say they were enormous. I noticed there were eight of the biggest bottles of cola available, two big pizzas, three giant bags of crisps, various other drinks, tubs of ice cream, three large boxes of sugary cereals, two large white sliced loaves, and several other unhealthy foods. Not a single item of fresh or healthy food came out of the trolley. Perhaps this wasn’t their regular diet and they might have been getting stuff in for a party over the bank holiday weekend, but my feeling was that they were no strangers to that menu. The little girl was not obese but starting to get bulbous as you would if you were brought up in such a household. I was so tempted to make a sarcastic remark but I restrained myself and looked the other way.

Member

That is very interesting John Ward. Those young ladies may be the first or second generation that eat like that. I see that the items in their trolley were all very heavy in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are very easily turned into glucose by the body which issues insulin to aid the storage of glucose in the tissue and muscle cells.

If there is any glucose left over it is turned into triglycerides and the insulin stores that in the fat cells and you put on weight. Insulin does not have the ability to remove triglycerides from the fat cells so if you wish to eat in that fashion then you are on a ratchet which only goes one way.

This accounts for the size of the young ladies and I think I can predict that the child will be going the same way in the future.

Interestingly when you are questioned about any metabolic syndrome you are always asked if any blood relatives have it to see if it is familial (genetic). They never ask if a husband/wife has it. The Health Service has a blind eye when it comes to nutrition. If food is the problem then people sitting round the same table may all be fat because they are eating the same diet.

These comments are aimed at John’s comments below.

Member

I know that sometimes eating sensibly is more expensive. The lesson has to be leaned though is that eating carbohydrates all the time will kill you. Chips, pizzas. dippers, nuggets, sausages, goujon, fingers, rice, potatoes, anything made with flour. Eat something else occasionally it could save your life.

Member

Trouble is, fresh fruit and vegetables, fish and meat are more expensive that pop and crisps and frozen pizza. Needs more time and effort to prepare too. Many people nowadays want easy, quick-fix meals that are cheap. I know of families where the children have a staple diet of sweets and pop for breakfast, chips for lunch and frozen pizza or fish fingers for dinner, interspersed with more sweets and pop. I once worked in a “healthy” school where breakfast consisted of coco-pops and toast with jam!

Member

http://www.factfood.org/en/a-miracle-molecule-hiding-in-milk/

Better bring back school milk by the sound of it.

” Preventing obesity
Mice on a high-fat diet fed NR gained significantly less weight (60%) than mice eating the same diet, but without NR supplementation. In addition, none of the NR-treated mice had indications that they were developing diabetes, unlike the untreated mice. “Even with a normal diet, NR improves insulin sensitivity,” explains Carles Cantó, first author on the article.
Increasing muscular performance
Mice who were fed supplements containing NR over a ten week period had better endurance performance than those who didn’t receive the supplements. They were in better shape – and this was confirmed by observations of their muscle fibers under the microscope.”

Member

The issue of eating more fat to reduce weight gain is gaining credibility. Seems counter intuitive, but it would appear it’s not fat per se that’s at the root of the problem. It would seem to be mainly convenience foods – with crisps in particular heading the list of deadly delicacies – and fizzy drinks. On the fizzy drink point, there’s now conclusive evidence that drinking sugar-free fizzy drinks has much the same effect as the sugared variety on the body’s metabolism.

The weight of evidence, however, increasingly fingers carbohydrates as the villains of the piece, and sweet things appeal to kids.

Member

“Teenagers in the UK consume around 77 litres of sugary drinks every year – enough to fill a bathtub, according to “shocking” results of a survey.
The survey carried out in 2015 found a similar pattern across all ages of children, with sugar consumption far in excess of recommended levels.
Compiled by charity Cancer Research UK, it found that pre-school children drank close to 70 cans of fizzy cola a year.
Meanwhile, children aged four to 10 drank almost 110 cans a year and teenagers guzzled over 234 cans.
The findings help support calls for measures to stem the flow of sugar consumption.
These figures are an improvement on those recorded in 2014 and it is hoped a planned UK tax on sugary drinks will continue to curb consumption. However critics say this is too little, too late.”