Childhood obesity is not a new thing, since the middle ages when the wealthy treated food as a luxury and gorged on the finer things in life. Children were at the crux of it, believing that food was admirable and a luxury, a treat. It’s this exact thought pattern that has lead to the increase of childhood waistlines and sugar addictions.
As our society finds new ways of pumping up sugar and fat into junk food, to make it more palatable, because we’ve all killed off our tasted buds and need 10g of sugar to taste anything. Not to mention the big corporations pushing flavoured water and low fat spreads as healthy options and marketing pushes food as a ‘treat’ our detachment from food becomes greater.
Children only eat what you feed them
The amount of parents I have spoken to who tell me “He only eats chips and crisps” or “They’re addicted to fizzy pop, I can’t fix it”. The problem is not that the children can only eat the food in front of them but the only food in front of them is what the parents feel they have to feed the children. If each item of food was treated equal there would be no treat foods and no one would feel that eating vegetables was a task which leads me steadily on…
Veggies bad, Sweeties good.
Or other wording that indicates vegetables are bad and sweet treats and snacks are a reward for doing such a horrible thing. In doing so we actively encourage the idea that vegetables aren’t tasty or are a chore and something you deserve praise for. Instead, why not mix up vegetables in new ways and spark a love of them from an early age.
In my house it has always been a given that they would eat their vegetables, throughout the week I give them dark chocolate, nuts, all the fruit they could eat and the occasional ‘junk’ item if we’re in a rush or sitting down for a movie. My nephew James, in particular, is a lover of fruits and vegetables over sweets and chocolate which is amazing!
Kids food marketing
Yup, your not always to blame for your little tikes cravings. It’s mostly to do with children’s marketing, you never see healthy foods being offered to children, instead it’s the cavity rotting sweets that are thrown at the children. From low shelves in the supermarkets, fun toys and sweets in between children’s cartoons, cheap unhealthy kids meals on the resturaunt menu.
Sweets and chocolate are no longer a weekly ‘treat’.
Just from my family alone we have 5 under 7’s and two of them eat sweets for breakfast lunch and dinner and the other the two have a sweet treat at least once or twice a day. UK children (5-11) are eating in a month, the sweets and chocolates a child 20 years prior would have eaten in a year! I’m not sure about you but chocolate and sweets have gone up in price since I was in primary, we would only get one or two chocolate bars a month!
Teach them to eat fruit and healthier alternatives.
Children only know what you teach them, so teach them properly. Give them the variety and choice to make good healthy decisions on their foods and offer them alternatives to puddings, why not top some yogurt with sliced fruit or some homemade baking and create some breakfast bars for their lunch boxes?
- Nearly two-thirds of the UK population is either overweight or obese
- The NHS spends £5bn a year on diseases such as strokes and diabetes that are linked to obesity.
- The EarlyBird diabetes study of 300 children in Devon showed that they had already gained 70–90% of their excess weight before primary school.
Advice & Schemes
Change 4 life has been around since the early 2000’s and with all schools taking this on board you can bet the kids already know about it and want to get involved.
Kids cookery classes and nutritional courses at school or in community centers. Free classes are offered throughout the year for families or groups of children who want to come along. Find out more on your local government site.
Exercise and steady activity reduces cravings and boosts the metabolism, along side a healthy diet it should set all children up with the right attitude to eating healthily and becoming more active. Why not sign yourself and your child up to an activity?
Remember there so many schemes in place to help beat childhood obesity, get healthy and kick start a life long habit.Whether your a parent or an older sibling reading this, making a smart choice will help the whole family in the long run.
I hope there has been something insightful in this little snippet of sugar loathing or at least it makes you think twice about looking at the sugar content in the six pack of mars bar ice creams you have at the bottom of the freezer.
Data collected from UK surveys from 2014-2016