One of the topics on the radio this lunchtime was childhood obesity, and were parents ignoring the issue by burying their heads in the sand.
It was mentioned that a five year old weighed over thirty kilos. That’s 66lbs, just four pounds off five stones.
In trying to get things into perspective, Maggie weighs 15 kilos, 33lbs, a pound or so more that the amount of weight I’ve lost in just over four months.
How much is a healthy child supposed to weigh, and are parents right to put their children on diets at an early age?
Even those buying a variety of healthy foods for their households may be overlooking what their offspring are spending their pocket money on!
Looking at the above chart, children 5 – 10 years of age should consume 1800 kcals a day.
Bear in mind that those of us familiar with dieting in the past may have tried to slim on 1000 calories a day. We remember how tough that was, so can we really expect a child to handle almost half their recommended daily intake?
I’m no expert on food, nutrition, diets, or kids, but one thing I didn’t hear mentioned on today’s programme was exercise.
Young kids do not seem to be encouraged in sport or other physical activity at school, or to play games in the playground, because they might injure themselves.
Woe the inconvenience to teaching staff at having to deal with a scratched knee in today’s Nanny State when everyone is afraid to do anything for fear of repercussions should there be an allergic reaction to a plaster!
Older kids are too busy playing on whatever the latest screen craze is now, or texting on their smartphones to the person standing next to them.
I still believe that if nutrition was to be taught in schools, that helping to understand food groups, the pitfalls of too much sugar, fat, salt, the health benefits of tomatoes, cucumber, herbs and spices, would be a start.
The sugar tax isn’t going to do much to deter parents buying fizzy drinks or confectionery.
We all like a little bit of the naughty stuff in the food line occasionally, and to deny youngsters of it altogether could result in more damage by secretive eating, subsequent guilt, and a serious increase in eating disorders.
Do kids go food shopping with their parents? Doubtful in today’s busy schedules and work commitments I expect.
As I was working part-time though, I used to take the boys in my care with me after collecting them from school on a Monday, each having the responsibility of collecting something for the basket, from dog food to the day’s dinner.
Over the years, I bought pies, pasties, crisps, chocolate, cakes and fizzy drinks by the ton, and confess didn’t think anything of it. Mind you, the boys walked to school, played football afterwards, didn’t have a computer or mobile phone, and TV time was limited.
But then that was thirty odd years ago.
We need a positive food campaign that does not preach or penalize in our pockets what we should not have, but encourage more of what we should at realistic prices.
The Five a Day was a good idea, but even that is now open to debate.
What ratio of fruit to veg, should it be 5 or 7 portions a day, what colour should it be, the warnings of cartoned fruit juice with its hidden sugars, the misguidance of ‘fat free’ produce that is high in additives of another sort.
As adults, we have a choice as to what we put inside our shopping carts and inside our bellies.
As parents, those choices are foisted onto our kids, and if we adults are uneducated in food, what hope is there for subsequent generations?
Obesity is a problem, one that isn’t going to go away. We can treat the symptoms, but really need to address the cause.
Just a thought.