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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Fri 19-Aug-16 16:19:40

Grandkids, obesity and biscuits

Food blogger Steve Croft wonders what's in store for a generation of kids brought up on one too many biscuits...and wonders if he, as a grandparent, is part of the problem?

Steve Croft

Grandkids, obesity and biscuits

Posted on: Fri 19-Aug-16 16:19:40


Lead photo

Do you find yourself saying yes too often?

"Grandad, am I fat?" The sort of question to make you spring immediately to the defence of your grandchild. Surely he shouldn't be worrying about body image at six years old?

Yet the question derived not from playground meanness but from a school letter. He had been identified as mildly obese.


Of course he's not obese. Is he? I mean, I write about food for goodness sake. I tell people about buying good fresh food, and encourage people to eat sensible diets. How can he be obese?

Then comes another question, an often-asked one in our house.

"Grandad, can I have a biscuit?"

The answer is immediate, and telling: "Of course you can". Because that is what grandparents say isn't it? - "of course you can". Because we are the grandparents and we have earned the right, to say yes. We struggled through all those years raising their parents. We had many times when we had to say no.

And our own parents spoiled our children didn't they? So this is our time to sit back and not have to worry about what they eat. Sure, we support what their parents do and say, but we are the grandparents: the ones who sneak a cake or a chocolate bar; the ones who say "don't tell your mum" with a conspiratorial wink at our shared naughtiness.

Even as I try not to notice the roll of fat over his waistband I cannot ignore the news stories about the number of obese children in the UK...


Looking round the playground, on my school-run day, I compared my grandson to the other kids. He was like most of them. Some were bigger - fatter, I suppose - yet he is, what? Chunky is a good word.

Not unhealthily oversized. I don't think.

Yet, even as I try not to notice the roll of fat over his waistband I cannot ignore the news stories about the number of obese children in the UK, and the massive risks of stuffing young mouths with excessive amounts of sugary foods.

The chat among the mums and dads in the playground certainly features the 'fat letters' as they have become known, but lacks any sense that their kids' dietary health is a priority. No, that's not fair. They seem to just not have the headspace to make changes. When I think of my own kids' lives I can see how that happens: overtime working, or holding down two jobs to make ends meet leaves little time for major life change.

But as time marches relentlessly on how will our grandchildren avoid future health disasters (which our NHS seems increasingly ill-resourced to deal with)? I think it is time for grandparents to step up to the mark, relinquish our role as cosy provider of treats and ditch the biscuit tin. We need to learn to say no, but more than that, we need to be the ones actively seeking out better food for them.

Modern grandparents have the world at their fingertips, let's not condemn our grandkids to health problems that may mean they don't get to enjoy the lives that we have.

You read more about Steve on his website, where he writes about food and food-related issues.

By Steve Croft

Twitter: @Gransnet

Mumsy Fri 19-Aug-16 16:37:26

What utter tosh! not all us grandparents say yes when their grandchildren want a biscuit! I certainly dont and never have done!
Being a grandparent give us grandparents no rights regarding our grandchildren because they are not our responsibilty they are our childrens responsibilty!

we as grandparents are definetely NOT condeming our children to future health problems! To say we as grandparents should step up to the mark is a bloody insult! I am very angry that this is even suggested!

Anya Fri 19-Aug-16 16:43:42

Everyone, including grandparents, have to step up to the mark. Children in this country seem to crave snacks between meals and see them as essential rather than a treat....and not just children either.

Plenty of grandparents do over-indulge their GC, so it's no use getting all twittery and insulted, as it's true that what used to be one biscuit from the biscuit tin, isn't always enough any more.

KatyK Fri 19-Aug-16 16:46:02

I was always guided by my granddaughter's parents. What they said went. I gave her treats, yes, but I always asked my DD what she could and couldn't have. I would never have dreamed of filling her full of junk. She is, and always has been, very slim and active.

GillT57 Fri 19-Aug-16 16:51:28

i thought it was a thoughtful and affectionate blog actually, and I cant see why anyone would get all huffy about it, unless they are feeling guilty about over indulging their grandchildren. Affection can be shown in many more way than sweet foods, and it is surely unfair, if parents are trying to tactfully deal with the issue, to undermine their efforts by giving our grandchild 'secret' biscuits?

Maggiemaybe Fri 19-Aug-16 17:23:24

I don't see anything offensive about the blog. I know lots of grandparents who enjoy treating their grandchildren and spoiling them a bit. We do make sure that any treat we give is sanctioned by mum and dad, but it's sometimes after the event blush. It tends to be a comic or a little toy rather than sweet stuff, but it's easy to fall into bad habits. Our DGS1 and DGS2 now expect to get fruit juice (well diluted) at Nana's house, when they only get water or milk at home. Their parents are okay with it, but it's difficult to break the habit once it's established. We don't eat biscuits ourselves, so no problem there, and though I do give a little chocolate treat when they come to ours, we hand it to their parents, to choose when they have it. At the moment it's tied in with using the toilet or the potty smile

Jalima Fri 19-Aug-16 17:40:11

I rarely buy biscuits and I've never known the DGC ask for one, although I have been known to buy them a very occasional Freddo or an icecream if we're out. However, they eat healthily for the most part and run around, trampoline, ride bikes, love the park etc and don't have any rolls of fat that I can see!
They get water or 'full fat' squash at my house as I won't buy anything with nasty artificial sweeteners and ask for fruit as a snack.
We do make cakes together sometimes, but if mum and dad said no, we'd make something more healthy instead.
Don't tell your mum shock - very wrong for another adult to encourage shared secrets from mum and dad.
I have noticed that some children somretimes grow outwards then shoot upwards, alternately looking a bit 'chunky' then tall and skinny again.

Luckygirl Fri 19-Aug-16 17:49:30

When I look after my DGD she has to eat her lunch and some fruit and then she is allowed the one treat - a small chocolate lolly. DD knows about this routine and is perfectly happy with it - if she was not, then it would not happen.

Luckygirl Fri 19-Aug-16 17:49:48

I indulge them with my attention!

Jalima Fri 19-Aug-16 17:55:06

Is this all part of the strategy for blaming 'baby boomers' for every ill of society? hmm

It's all our fault ..... even to obese children now!

Day6 Fri 19-Aug-16 17:56:23

We always ask if our grandchild is allowed an ice cream if we go to the park in the summer. It's a rare indulgence. She tends to get all her sweet treats via her nursery friends at parties as her parents try to ensure her diet is healthy.

I was a bit disturbed when I cared for her recently that she requested chocolate spread on her wholewheat toast for breakfast because her play mate down the road has it. It just seems so daft to me that anyone would give their children chocolate in any form, in cereals or cereal bars first thing in the day. I cannot believe some of the sugar/chocolate-packed cereals on the supermarket shelves.shock

A sweet treat isn't really a kindness for young children imo. My GD tends to get crayons, stickers or colouring books as a treat when I visit. I am probably considered 'boring' Nanna.

Pollengran Fri 19-Aug-16 18:48:32

I must be the wrong kind of gran because I never say "of course you can" if asked for sweets and biscuits. I offer fruit or sometimes I say NO.

I have seen how hyper children get at parties where they stuff all sorts of sweet chemical laden treats into their tiny mouths and I prefer to avoid that.

I know the other grandparents in my family indulge with all sorts of rubbish, but there is nothing I can do about that.

I am not entirely heartless though. I will make a jelly in a jug served with berries and cream occassional, but only given if the main meal is eaten first.

Granarchist Fri 19-Aug-16 19:02:49

what a load of nonsense. I dont have biscuits in the house. What I do have, at the moment, is loads of cherry tomatoes which my DGC think are a real treat. They come and pick them in my polytunnel and can choose from yellow, orange or red. The idea that grandparents regards sugary sweets as a good thing is so outdated.

NanaandGrampy Fri 19-Aug-16 19:12:43

Whatever happened to moderation in all things?

I have active , healthy grandchildren that constantly on the go.

I do offer snacks , and on occasion it might be a biscuit. It's just as likely to be fruit , or an ice lolly I made with watered down fruit juice. I'm a little tired with all the 'rules' about what can and can't go in packed lunches etc. Whatever happened to common sense ?

M0nica Fri 19-Aug-16 19:16:10

I am with those grandparents who follow the lead set by their DGC's parents. In our case DGC do not ask us for biscuits, sweets or sweetened fizzy drinks because they do not do it at home and all three are items I would not normally have in the house. Of course when DGC stay with us and we go out for the day we will probably occasionally buy them an ice cream or packet of crisps, exactly as their parents would do when they are on holiday

I do not think it is good to demonise any individual foodstuff, it only makes it seem more attractive and a bit of sugar in the diet does not inevitably lead to obesity. If children grow up eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg and seeing sweet foods as an occasional treat they are likely to continue to eat like that as adults.

Diet is only half the obesity problem, the other half is exercise. If children spend all their time indoors playing on ipads, 4G phones, play stations etc instead of going outside and getting plenty of fresh air and exercise then they are going to have weight and long term health problems even if they eat a healthy diet.

BBbevan Fri 19-Aug-16 19:18:20

Not long ago my eldest GD told me I was 'strict', when I said no to a biscuit just before lunch. DH asked what her other Grandma (DiLs mother ) was. GD said ' Kind, because I don't have to ask and I can have anything I want'
In fact I have seen her at other Gma's house take a packet of Chocolate rolls from the cupboard and eat three.
Her mother would be appalled as she keeps a good eye on their diet. Perhaps when DGD gets a little older she will realise who was right.

Gagagran Fri 19-Aug-16 19:18:21

The big treat for all my four DGC has always been the same as the one their parents loved - a grated apple in a dish, eaten with a teaspoon. My Mum used to give it to me as a child especially after an upset stomach of any kind. It seemed to work!

trisher Fri 19-Aug-16 19:39:57

I daren't give biscuits or any other sort of sweet stuff as a treat. DIL is a dentist and sugar is strictly rationed and a sweet treat only given at the end of a meal. Between meal snacks cause most of the tooth damage. I learned years ago that food should never be used as a reward and didn't do it to my kids, so why would I do it to my GCs? This bloke may be a food blogger but he is sadly very badly informed about food.

M0nica Fri 19-Aug-16 21:01:00

What annoyed me most about the blog was the assumption that all grandparents are such soft touches that they say yes, yes, yes to every request of their grandchildren, even when it is their disadvantage

There have been plenty of threads on Gransnet for it to be clear that very few members are soft touch grandparents or that many of their DGC's parents are either.

JessM Fri 19-Aug-16 21:50:40

I got told off by DS recently for not "treating" my GCs - and there I was trying not to transgress against their mother's wish for them to eat healthily. Rest of visit I let them have as much crap as they wanted when out with me.
If grandparents see their kids regularly - such as taking care of them after school, then there is some responsibility for giving them a balanced food offering.
Something grandparents might have time to do with them is cooking. This does not have to mean cakes.
My GD was very proud of her fish pie and she also tackled a complex Turkish dish that we had previously tried in the market.
GS never happier than when allowed to make bread. All that kneading, stretching and squeezing the dough! He is a strong 8 year old and made a better job of this than I would.

Nana3 Sat 20-Aug-16 08:18:44

My 10 year old GS is slightly overweight, he eats healthily at home. School dinners are heavy on carbohydrate, pizza and chips, pasta, which he loves. We don't know how big the portions are but can imagine because his appetite has increased. DD is changing him to packed lunches in September. They take some planning though. She needs to have another word at school imo, she's mentioned it to them once. He has lost some weight over the last 4 weeks of school holidays.
I'm not happy saying this about school, they are such good people there.

Nana3 Sat 20-Aug-16 08:25:07

He doesn't eat biscuits.

Nelliemoser Sat 20-Aug-16 09:07:35

I did not go in for buying my kids regular sweets or fruit bars. My daughter is the same, maybe a rich tea biscuit if they are hungry, more often she does give bits of banana and also offers bread and butter. The littlest is now making raids on the cereal box to eat small dry shredded wheats. Strange child.

DaphneBroon Sat 20-Aug-16 09:18:20

Yes, yes, and thrice yes to all the people who think this is so much tosh and needs shooting down
Grandparents may be an easy target but good eating habits start in the HOME.
I bet 99.99999% of us here bend over backwards to abide by whatever rules our DC have set for the DGC regarding treats, biscuits and the like. I was scrupulous about no sweets, and assiduous about buying sugar free gingerbread men or raisins etc for DGSs mid morning "snack", but realised I could relax slightly when I heard DD and SIL had raided a hitherto unheard-of stash of little packs of chocolate buttons which they apparently kept for the boys for extra special treats!
hmm thank goodness nobody is perfect.

Elegran Sat 20-Aug-16 09:45:10

I didn't go in for buying treats for my own children, and I have continued the policy with grandchildren. Occasionally, but not frequently.

Just what proportion of children's intake of calories does this person think is made up of what they get from grandparents? It would need to be a huge number of treats coupled with none from parents to have more effect on their weight than what they eat at home.