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?

ICBINEG Wed 07-Aug-13 13:36:51

I think the advice to not control your baby/toddler in their eating could be out there more. I only found it from a MNer.

No cajoling to eat more...not refusing them food when they are hungry and having lots of healthy snaking food around.

Same thing with exercise. Kids run A LOT. If you drag them to special classes they will develop resistance...

Kids need to develop normalcy around food and exercise...I am not sure that any amount of focus on the issue can actually do anything but make it worse.

My generation was made to 'eat everything put in front of you'. We were threatened with being served leftovers for breakfast and reminded about starving children in Africa. So how come childhood obesity is worse now, when we don't force small children to eat what we give them?

Squitten Wed 07-Aug-13 13:40:17

All you can do, short of making it somehow illegal and forcibly taking children away, is educate parents over and over and over. My family certainly have terrible notions about what constitutes a good diet and how much junk food is permissable and, worse than making children fat, it instills the bad habits that make it very difficult for them to lose weight as adults.

Government should also be supporting exercise by investing money in kids play areas, school exercise facilities, etc. Free leisure centre passes for kids perhaps. The other thing you can do (and I think the government should) is tax the hell out of sugary, fatty crap food.

Famzilla Wed 07-Aug-13 13:40:30

More cooking & nutrition lessons?

Some adults were raised on convenience food and have no concept of what a 'serving size' looks like. They have no idea what the rda of fat, carbs etc is.

IMO it was never necessary because junk food wasn't so cheaply and readily available. But now it is, I think schools should be teaching children the basic cooking skills which seem to have been lost through generations.

flatpackhamster Wed 07-Aug-13 13:42:55

Exercise, exercise, exercise.

Competitive sport has been removed from schools. Schools and local authorities have sold off their playing fields to build houses. Schools don't do anything energetic with children because the poor dears might get a scratch.

Get the kids out for an hour a day, even in the rain, doing some actual movement.

angelos02 Wed 07-Aug-13 13:44:47

Don't let kids sit at laptops/ipads for hours on end.

Torrorosso Wed 07-Aug-13 13:47:46

Tax sugar to the heavens and make unprocessed food cheap and available. Won't happen though because the government is in thrall to the food companies.

Processed, sugary food is almost impossible to avoid - that's the problem previous generations didn't face.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 07-Aug-13 13:48:33

Cut out all the low fat, diet, healthy for you but packed full of sugar, salt and other shit food that is marketed as good for you.
Feed your children good wholesome fruit, veg, meat and dairy. Avoid processed food.
Don't make food an issue. Put the food on the plate, and let them eat until they are full.
Ration computer games and TV watching and encourage sports and outdoor play.
Some things are easier than others sadly.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 07-Aug-13 13:49:14

P.S. Hi Tins. How are you doing? smile

UnevenTan Wed 07-Aug-13 13:50:38

I think ne major problem is people's perceptions. People think their child is a healthy weight, when in fact they are overweight and their bmi demonstrates it. They re in denial, just because we are so used to seeing overweight and obese kids.

Also portion sizes.and kids eating fast in front of telly will eat too much because they're brain won't tell them they're full fast enough.

There's no one answer really.

I'd like to try free breakfasts and cooked lunches meeting proper nutritional standards (I.e. not cereal, toast and jam) compulsory for all school-aged children. Too radical for this country, however. It would be expensive, it I bet it would be worth it.

UnevenTan Wed 07-Aug-13 13:52:33

Agree more exercises needed in schools. And stop sticking them in the hall with dvds for 'wet playtime', outside all weathers, just like nursery manage.

sandwichyear Wed 07-Aug-13 13:54:06

It would be useful to know more detailed info about the problem. Ie which 20% of kids? Is it poor urban kids, who don't have access to good shops/ transportation to get to good shops and little money to buy healthy foods? Is it rich kids sitting on their i-pads all day? rural kids? It's easy to lump 'kids' together and start making wide pronouncements about what should be done, but it's likely to be different reasons in different circumstances.

quoteunquote Wed 07-Aug-13 13:55:02

free swimming and climbing wall access everywhere for children.

Blissx Wed 07-Aug-13 14:06:33

WhereDoAllTheCalculatorsGo, in answer to your question, I would say 'Media' is the main difference between your childhood and now. Digital TV with 24 hour childrens channels, DVDs, Tablets, Smartphones, Computer Games (the Digital Nanny) plays a huge part in current childhood obesity. I see too many parents just hand over one of these devices when a child starts getting restless when this would be a great opportunity to do a physical activity instead.This coupled with the fact that is its not considered safe to have children playing outside by themselves and weight suddenly becomes a bigger issue. So although you may have had a high calorie diet as a child (if I read that right), you probably burnt off a lot of the energy and therefore, did not gain unnecessary weight. Not so the case of a lot of today's children.

It's all diet, apparently children are almost as active as 50 years ago (surprised me too)

Cheap sweets , no pound shops when I was young, cheap carbs - the cheapest food is processed.

Poverty - who wouldn't feed their kid a packet of custard creams when they're the same cost as an apple?

Reduce poverty, increase nutrition by having school breakfasts and lunches for everyone - accompanied with a massive campaign that the kids then only need a smaller meal in the evening.

And by breakfast and lunch I mean eggs, sausage, tomatoes for breakfast. Vegetables/salads/cheese/good bread/dessert for a big lunch.

Will cost a fortune but I would pay more tax for it. The longer hours in breakfast club/ after school club would help working parents

After school clubs to be karate, gymnastics, fun stuff.

SaggyOldClothCatPuss Wed 07-Aug-13 14:13:42

That definitely doesn't apply to my upbringing Laurie. We were out and active from the minute school threw out until bedtime. There aren't many kids that I know who live like that nowadays.
But then, I don't know the whole country's lifestyles.
I'm definitely a bit hmm though!

PrincessScrumpy Wed 07-Aug-13 14:17:31

Until having dtds and having top give up work money wasn't an issue so dd1 was very healthy but now money is tight I can buy a pack of biscuits for 30p which will last rather than 1apple which will be gone instantly so I do understand whyit's happening. My dc are still healthy but I think outdoor play and TV time is well balanced.
Imo the healthy eating lessons at school are rubbish. They teach dd that burgers are bad (even though I make ours from lean mince) and apples are good (even though if that was all you ate you wouldn't be healthy).
Lots of dds friends have crisps and kitcats in their lunch boxes but they were always teats when I was little, maybe once a week or at apicnic.
The healthy eating menu thing was a fab idea but someone new to cooking would have looked at the ingredients list and been scared off. Wrong audience completely.
I find kids cook books are fab fir quick and easy everyday meals so something more like that and easily available would be better.

jammiedonut Wed 07-Aug-13 14:20:40

Portion control, don't use food as reward and exercise! I childmind a few times a week, so many times I pick up my charges and find they're eating crisps at 8.30am! If they've been good, their parents buy them sweets as a 'well done' and I've seen adults serve children portions bigger than I'd give myself.
I too was taught to eat all the food on my plate, but was lucky enough that my mum had the time and money to cook from scratch and have fresh fruit/ vegetables to snack on. Unfortunately this isnt a possibility for many families. Also, mealtimes were not a debate, if I didn't like what was put in front of me I didn't eat!

It's a mixture of things imo and some things are hard to implement..

Some children are predisposed to not be physically active and may gain weight easily; I watched a Robert Winston show a few years back; some of the kids were fidgets, even watching telly they couldn't sit still and others were quite stationary, that must be a factor but how is this to be fixed?

Educate Parents who need educating - Have you read how much sugar is in absolutely everything these days so less processed food, again how do you advise and stop parents giving such food?

More PE on the curriculum but what do we remove from the timetable to make room for this? and not just the usual netball, football and rounders but hand ball, country dancing and dodge ball.

Yes to free swimming, when it was free here my ds's and their friends went every week and more in the holidays.

FourGates Wed 07-Aug-13 14:22:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Plus when we were younger we had no phones and no social network, to speak to a friend you had to walk/cycle to meet them, no worries these days.

I do fear that there is no going back from this crisis unfortunately.

FourGates Wed 07-Aug-13 14:25:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Viviennemary Wed 07-Aug-13 14:30:13

I agree that some children eat no more than their friends and are prone to being overweight. I think years ago a lot of children walked to school and now are driven there. Same with walking round to a friend's house. Excercise is the key not cutting down on food.

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