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How did we get to this?

(63 Posts)
whitewave Sun 16-Nov-14 10:07:09

See there is a report just out that details the level of child malnutrition in the UK. Makes uncomfortable reading, with Doctors saying that they have been aware of it for some time, as these children often present with related illness like pneumonia, a loss of adult teeth (ye gods!), and when hospitalized it becomes obvious how their growth has been affected.

I never thought to read such a thing in the UK, we should be ashamed.

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 16-Nov-14 10:09:26

There will always be bad parents who just won't put their children first.

whitewave Sun 16-Nov-14 10:12:39

Then the level of "bad" parents must be growing existentially as the level of malnutrition is also growing existentially.

Agus Sun 16-Nov-14 10:35:18

Whoever is responsible for this should be ashamed.

whenim64 Sun 16-Nov-14 10:52:46

There are parents going without the nutrition they need to try and give their children enough nutritious food, because they cannot manage on low pay. A living wage is needed for every family, but so many are living in poverty. Some days I think we're back in Victorian times when I hear about children developing rickets, having stunted growth and such suppressed immune systems that they are constantly ill.

Post war, the provision of milk, orange juice and vitamins was intended to help children be healthier. Now, primary school children are getting free school dinners as it's obviously a recognised problem that the government has some responsibility for.

hildajenniJ Sun 16-Nov-14 10:58:12

When my DD who is now in her 30s was at school, they studied food technology. They were taught how raising agents worked etc. They did no real cookery, were not taught the basics of good home cooking or budgeting skills as I was. She would be lost without having been taught by me before she went to university. Do they still teach food tech in schools,or have they gone back to teaching actual cookery?

My DD is now a very good cook. smile

thatbags Sun 16-Nov-14 11:06:01

Cookery is taught at the school Minibags attends.

Marmight Sun 16-Nov-14 11:06:13

Quite right Hilda we should get back to basics and 'old' values. Probably the parents of these children and possibly their parents were not taught at home or in school how to cook healthily or care for a family. Most of us have the wherewithall to pick it up as we go along, but there are those, sadly who don't. I have a friend who 'teaches' the basics for a charity. It is very sad. It can take hours for them to take on board the simplest cookery - boiling an egg, preparation of vegetables etc. sad

nightowl Sun 16-Nov-14 11:06:23

Whilst I agree with many of the points made, I don't think there is a simple link between poverty and malnutrition. I think many children from relatively affluent homes could be suffering dietary deficiencies because parents no longer have time or skills to cook nutritious meals, because our supermarkets are full of junk, and because the onslaught of advertising convinces people that they should exist on processed chemical-ridden crap. I don't think any one person or organisation is to blame but the multinational food manufacturers must bear some responsibility, as well as governments for allowing them to get away with it.

petallus Sun 16-Nov-14 11:34:38

I agree with whenim64

Our child poverty levels are high compared with other European countries. I don't think the answer lies in bad parenting.

merlotgran Sun 16-Nov-14 11:36:46

I taught Food Tech, hilda and I agree with a lot of what you say. The problem with food as a subject (in some schools) began when it was incorporated into the design and technology dept. All to do with funding, of course. angry

We managed to keep Home Economics as a separate GCSE subject which included Food and Nutrition but sadly, most students opted to take Food Tech because it included CAD and CAM which made the coursework more interesting.

We worked hard to incorporate as much 'real cooking' in practical lessons as we could. Nutrition was also taught as part of the curriculum. We were only allowed one hour for a practical and the classes were large so we were limited to simple meals or baked products.

On the one hand we had parents who were pleased to see their kids learning to cook and co-operated with providing ingredients and encouraged them to cook at home. On the other, we had parents who refused to buy ingredients as they said the dish was not something they liked to eat. We argued that modifying dishes to suit family tastes was part of the lesson so everyone could be catered for but the sad fact was we ended up funding more and more practical lessons because the parents either could not or would not support their children.

Faye Sun 16-Nov-14 11:37:43

Good posts when and Nightowl.

Mishap Sun 16-Nov-14 11:40:19

How I do agree hilda! - I was furious about one of my DD's "Design Technology (Food)" [finger down throat icon required here] lessons. For the whole of one term they consisted of taking in a ready-made pizza base and different toppings each time. They were then required to design packaging and marketing strategies for each one. I was incandescent with rage! - what a load of bollocks! What happened to learning about feeding your family healthily as an act of love and nurture - grrrr!

Atqui Sun 16-Nov-14 11:48:44

NightowlI agree with you. I am sure there are many needy cases, but having seen the amount of junk food included in packed lunch boxes in a school with comparatively few free school meals ( pre universal free school meals) it's not hard to see why children are malnourished. Apparently as a nation we spend a much smaller proportion of our net income on food than we did in the fiftys and sixty s . Other things take priority, and not just necessities. My two year old GD s dentist was surprised that she consumes zero fizzy drinks and sweets.

whitewave Sun 16-Nov-14 11:50:10

There is clearly no one answer to this problem but my guess would be that the graph showing child poverty and children malnutrition it aligned.

I agree with the remarks made about the lack of proper education regarding domestic skills and here I think study would show that this tended to kick in with the rise (and this goes against the grain to say this) of feminism. Our domestic science lessons at school when I look back were absolutely outstanding. We were taught how to care for a child from birth and this included dietary needs and physical needs. From the type of clothing to the type of equipment. We also were taught household management, and cookery skills including nutritional requirements and budgeting that would knock the socks off what the children seem to be taught today, not least what we see on the television in so called expert cookery programmes. I left that school with the entire range of skills needed to run a home. Of course I had a few A's as well which helped immediately!!!

But none of this is any good assuming the children were given this type of education, if they do not have the where-with-all to achieve this. With the best will in the world poverty and the worry grinds you down day after day.

durhamjen Sun 16-Nov-14 12:01:52

Just said on another thread about the number of people in one town in the North East who go without heating and are handed out sleeping bags by the Salvation Army. Lots are pensioners but many are families. Like when said, if there's no money, there's no food, except what they are given from a food bank.

I have just looked at the board members of Defra and there are more accountants and people who have studied PPE than farmers.
One of the members was previously the CEO of Tate and Lyle, and is now the CEO of Balfour Beatty and on the board of PWC. In fact three have connections with PWC, so it's all about finance, not food.

Only one of the four ministers has anything to do with farming.
One board member, believe it or not, is also the CEO at Action for Children, so he's not being listened to.

durhamjen Sun 16-Nov-14 12:06:34

Whitewave, I agree with what you say. I have asked Steve Webb if he is ashamed of what is happening to pensioners.
I have just heard about the report that you talk of on the radio. As the doctor said, the kids do not present with malnutrition, but with pneumonia, etc. Then they discover they are malnourished.
It all goes together. Most malnourishment occurs in poor families.

whitewave Sun 16-Nov-14 12:08:21

It would be an interesting lesson I think to look at someone who is so poor and the budget they have to manage on every week and how they spend it.

jinglbellsfrocks Sun 16-Nov-14 12:10:40

If the children got a good quality supermarket shepherds pie or chicken curry when they got home, after a school lunch, they would be fine. If the parents can't or won't cook, it's the next best thing. Probably better in some cases. Does anyone on here actually look at the ingredients on the pack?

Child nutrition could well stem from the same causes that make the parents fat. I agree school 'cookery' should replace 'food technology'. Back to basics please.

merlotgran Sun 16-Nov-14 12:12:48

Sadly that's what happened when food became an 'ology, Mishap

Even in Home Economics I thought there was far too much emphasis on the 'boring stuff'. Kids need to be taught to cook, cook and cook. We had two very well equipped food rooms but an hour for a practical????

A lot of them opted for Food Tech at GCSE because they could spend loads of time sitting at a computer designing packaging and as for making meals healthier by replacing sugar with sweetener......Really??


I'm glad I'm out of it.

J52 Sun 16-Nov-14 12:13:43

i recently retired from a secondary school, where the Food Technology teacher told me that the students had problems creating some of the dishes required because the parents could not afford to provide meat/ expensive ingredients and risk the food being wasted.

Making simple pasta and cake recipes were popular, but only taught limited skills. There could have been adaptions, but they had to stick to the syllabus.

Years ago when they raised the school leaving age, students who had 'spare' lessons were taught life skills that included basic cooking with little cost. x

durhamjen Sun 16-Nov-14 12:21:33

I have just been looking at the Action for Children website.
In a 39 page report on neglect, malnutrition is mentioned just once.
In an 84 page Impact Report for last year, it does not get mentioned at all.
Is the CEO doing his job in either Defra or Action for Children?

whitewave Sun 16-Nov-14 12:23:04

Who is the CEO? Where does he/she come from?

posie Sun 16-Nov-14 12:26:46

In Scotland Primary school are going to get free dinners starting in January. Which sounds very good in theory but unless they change how the children can choose what they want it could end up with a lot more food wasted & very unhealthy children.

My DGS started school this year & takes packed lunches except for Fridays. His Mum thought it would be good for him to have the experience of queuing & choosing his own lunch & clearing his plate etc. away afterwards.

However his usual choice seems to be mashed potato & pasta with rice krispies in custard for pudding!
When his Mum asked him why he didn't choose any vegetables he said with a cheeky grin " because you're not there mum" hmm

whitewave Sun 16-Nov-14 12:30:27

We had no choice - dinner monitors went up to the serving hatches and came back with the containers and we ate it! Questions were asked if anything was left but we all seemed to clear our plates without any trouble regardless of what it was.