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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

mygrannycanfly Sat 20-Aug-16 09:57:43

DH and I afore having our DGD for a weekly sleepover. We are delighted to spare DD the tyranny of putting a healthy meal on the table the instant she gets home one weeknight a week.

But sleepovers are not an opportunity to stuff our GD with unhealthy good. Quite the opposite. We make the effort to prepare something healthy and nutritious for her. She objects strongly to most vegetables and fruit so we disguise them in a freshly made sauce. Her current favourite is "faggots". I hate them and Never clean my plate - so no pudding for me!

We never have biscuits so GD doesn't ask for them. Snacks are cheese and grapes with a glass of water (with novelty ice cubes) - with maybe a few nachos (the economy salted kind are often surprisingly healthy).

We are fond indulgent GPs - but our indulgences are play dough, train sets and colouring pens. Much more fun!

morethan2 Sat 20-Aug-16 10:51:38

Oh dear I'm guilty as charged. blush ( sorry for letting the side down) I don't give too many but I do buy Jaffa cakes and sweets. I don't stuff them full of the stuff but I do indulge them a bit. Yesterday I took them to McDonald's and next week I'm treating one of my granddaughters to her favourite cafe for a birthday treat of chocolate cake. They do get healthy fruit and health meals if they stay. I've got four that I see regularly and none of them are anywhere near described as fat. I've never asked their parents if they minded me giving them treats and if they did object they'd soon let me know. I think it's taken for granted that they'll be a little spoilt here. Mind you I'm a bit of a 'let's get out an about nanna' so perhaps they burn it off.

Crofty Sat 20-Aug-16 11:05:55

I wrote this blog and am heartened to see how many grandparents took umbrage and clearly have sensible attitudes to food.

Although I'm pleased that many grandparents are not guilty of being part of the problem this post was based on experience and observation. People really do give their grandkids a sweet treat every day when they do the school run.

Child obesity is a problem and arouses strong feelings when solutions are discussed as today's discussion on here shows. It's good to see the wide range of solutions discussed:

gettingonabit Sat 20-Aug-16 11:30:13

Thanks, crofty, for pointing out the bleedin' obviousgrin.

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 20-Aug-16 11:52:42

Does anyone else find the threads about childcare, totally boring? We are grandparents. Why do we have to care anymore? confused

Take it Mumsnet. Keep childcare out of Gransnet.

Crofty Sat 20-Aug-16 12:23:10

My pleasure!

Crofty Sat 20-Aug-16 12:25:18

It's Gransnet not older-people's-net. You don't get the gran bit without the grand kids.

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 20-Aug-16 12:49:19

Well, personally, I'm not involved to any great extent, with the childcare of mine. Thank God.

Their parents seem to be dragging them up satisfactorily. smile

The slightly chubby one is now, at eleven, shooting up and slimming down. All's well.

Craftycat Sat 20-Aug-16 13:00:43

Well TBH I DO give my GC biscuits & cakes & we make them together. They love cooking with me. As they are all on the skinny side as they play all sorts of sports & swim a lot I don't worry too much about it. If they were less active, staying here more or looking in any way over weight I would think again. I know the meals they get here are healthy but we do have a dessert sometimes too.
My own Grandad used to give me a biscuit & say 'don't tell your Mum'- she was always right behind him & used to say 'I heard that'!! It was our game.I then had to pretend to hide it from her. I had forgotten that until I read this thread.

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 20-Aug-16 13:03:09

I give mine choccy. And strawberries.

etheltbags1 Sat 20-Aug-16 13:16:26

I give dgd treats when I see her, in moderation, the other grain piles her up with huge bags of sweeties and toys every time she sees her, I usually ask if its ok to give her a treat. This works ok for me and keeps mum and dad happy too

Granny23 Sat 20-Aug-16 21:30:42

When my DDs were small, I gave each of them a box which I stocked each week with 7 'treats' packets of crisps, nuts or dried fruit and a few wrapped chocolate biscuits. They soon learned to limit themselves to one a day, although they were often generous and gave something to a visiting friend, knowing that there would be no treat for themselves the next day. I also managed to convince them that the ice cream van only sold cigarettes and that the most desirable treat of all and reward for good behaviour was fresh fruit, especially if they picked it themselves from the garden.

I have had less success with the grandchildren since they discovered that their Grandpal had a secret stash of sweets and biscuits which he could be easily persuaded to share. However, they have been here a lot during the summer holidays, picking raspberries, strawberries (one for the jam, one for their mouths) and this week it was tomatoes and peas - picked, podded then eaten raw.

Alima Sat 20-Aug-16 22:01:16

I suppose we are in the wrong here. DGS loves to copy Grandad so has to have a cup of tea (very weak, no sugar) and a biscuit to dunk for elevenses. However we do score well in the breakfast division. DGS eats his W'abix with NO sugar. I am full of admiration, it must be like eating wallpaper paste.

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 20-Aug-16 22:04:46

Scottish raspberries! Yum! Can't beat 'em. (re Granny23's post)

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 20-Aug-16 22:07:11

Yes. My two have always eaten their Weetabix with no sugar. But the older one has now discovered Cheerios! shock And, wait for it.... Co-co Pops!

jinglbellsfrocks Sat 20-Aug-16 22:08:15

Thin as a rake though. hmm

Nelliemoser Sat 20-Aug-16 22:54:37

I have never put sugar on weetabix or shreddies (aka malted wheaties) or shredded wheat.

Lupatria Mon 22-Aug-16 20:51:46

yes i give my grandaughters treats - biscuits, crisps, chocolate, sweets.
however it's not on a regular basis just as and when.
so i don't consider giving them the odd treat now and again constitutes over-indulgence.
all four of my grandaughters are tall and slim - they range in age from 14 to 2 and are active. they are fed healthily by their parents and also by myself.
there's nothing wrong with the odd treat now and again - a couple of biscuits or a small bar of chocolate doesn't do them harm. they aren't being stuffed full of nasties.

Lupatria Mon 22-Aug-16 20:53:03

forgot to say that if they wanted coco pops, cheerios or chocolate spread on their toast then they can.
they are active enough either at school or at home for it not to matter.

Jalima Mon 22-Aug-16 20:54:30

I don't keep many chocolates or biccies in for the DGC because I would eat them myself.

Today they had fruit as a snack (oh! all that sugar!)

grannypiper Sat 03-Sep-16 11:25:24

I do allow my GC to have a biscuit and ice cream, why should i ban them ? she has a very active life and a diet full of veg, good meat, fish and fruit and only drinks water and milk so if she asks(which isnt often) she is given A biscuit.We need to teach our children that there is no BAD food but that somethings need to be eaten sparingly.

Luckylegs9 Mon 05-Sep-16 14:52:24

If the grandchildren are living with you, you provide their food, then yes, you are to blame. If not it is down to the parents. I would never give my own children or grandchildren fizzy drinks and shop cakes. Crisps and sweets were once a week, there are all types of parents and grandparents. I know when I see some parents shopping, their basket is overloaded generally with food I certainly wouldn't buy. Feel very sorry for those fat children who accompany their fat parents, they have no chance of living a healthy lifestyle.

Bebe4r2 Sat 17-Sep-16 09:13:21

The biggest culprit for obesity, in children or adults, is certain food manufactures. They know what they're doing.

DaphneBroon Sat 17-Sep-16 09:35:36

Granny bashing again.
When in doubt, blame the state/parents/grandparents.......angry

Nelliemoser Sat 17-Sep-16 09:52:47

The photo on this blog shows a young child biting into an iced bun not a biscuit. A huge calorie difference there.

There are far too many children always snacking and this is heavily promoted by the food retailers.

As I said further down my kids used to get a rich tea buscuit (with a drink squash I am afraid) which my DD or I would not approve of now.
The odd biscuit when visiting granny is one thing, always allowing childen to regularly snack is another matter. That and portion size count for a lot of obesity problems.
In general keep snacks out of the house. Children are being "trained" to be hungry all the time.