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Childhood obesity strategy "lite"

(282 Posts)
JessM Thu 18-Aug-16 19:57:54

Under Cameron the Dept of Health was toiling away, developing a strategy for reducing childhood obesity, which seems to be steadily rising, fuelled my all those sugary drinks and snacks and exacerbated by the lack of activity in young lives.
Today we have the final version released, with several ideas removed.
Sugar tax on soft drinks will add a few pence per can/bottle.
Encourage food producers to reduce the sugar content of foods. breakfast cereals, yoghurts, biscuits, cakes, confectionery, morning goods (e.g. pastries), puddings, ice cream and sweet spreads.
And some warm words about promoting 60mins exercise per day (50% in school)
The content has been criticised because plans to crack down on special offers on things like cakes and biscuits have been withdrawn and again it is a light touch "lets try and persuade food producers" approach rather than anything more punitive.

Will any of this actually do a thing to encourage parents (particularly those on low incomes) to reduce their children's consumption of pop, sweets, chocolate, cake, biscuits and ice-cream? And is a slight reduction in the sugar in cereals or baked beans going to make a difference?

obieone Thu 18-Aug-16 20:29:44

Am I alone in thinking governments can be a bit bought in this country nowadays?

On the plus side, a town about 4o miles from me that used to have a problem with oversizing, is now looking decidedly better in that regard.
I have no idea if the town is a one-off, or if oversizing is on the decrease nationally.

rosesarered Thu 18-Aug-16 20:39:49

I think that the PM is trying a lighter approach rather than being heavy handed with manufacturers at a time when the country needs to keep it's jobs.
I would like to see parents doing what they should be doing ie.Looking after the welfare of their own children and not buying some of that sweet sugary yukky stuff.

Ana Thu 18-Aug-16 20:45:43

I don't think the measures that have been dropped would have persuaded parents who already ignore health/obesity warnings to change their shopping habits, unless prices were increased dramatically, which was never going to happen.

It's very difficult to change people's habits, especially by telling them it's for their own (or their children's) good!

Jalima Thu 18-Aug-16 20:54:18

We have become rather used to a 'Nanny State' and people need to take more responsibility for their own actions.
However, manufacturers have a responsibility too. One young mother said it was cheaper to buy sweets, cakes, chocolates etc for her children as they were often buy one get one free and fruit and vegetables are not sold like that, but I wonder if she has done a price comparison.

Personally I dislike the 'no added sugar' soft drinks as I would avoid aspartame, but it is quite difficult to buy any drinks without artificial sweeteners nowadays.

JessM Thu 18-Aug-16 21:43:52

Yes of course pbleone the vast lobbying power of the food industry is lurking in the wings.
I don't think the "parents should do better" argument is very helpful. The food industry has at its disposal huge amounts of money to spend on sales and marketing - all designed to manipulate the behaviour of shoppers. It is only the better educated and less stressed parents who are likely to study food labels and work out how much sugar is in a "serving" of yogurt or 100g of cereal. Tried analysing the information on a cereal packet lately?
Meanwhile 10% of all the money that the NHS spends is on diabetes - much of it preventable if we stopped eating vast quantities of refined sugar.
If you have ever read The Road to Wigan Pier you will have been struck by the diet of poor people in the 1930s.
And it is still the case that the poorest children from (on average) the least well-educated families who have the worst diets.

Hard hitting critique from well known medical figure:

gillybob Thu 18-Aug-16 22:09:08

Personally I think the thinking here is all wrong . My 3 DGC, girls 10 and 8 and little boy 6 all eat like horses. In fact you can't fill the middle one, she is always hungry. They eat lots and lots of good food. They are all extremely sporty ( football, gymastics, swimming, running, climbing, riding etc) and they don't have a pick of fat between them. They have muscles like little Popeyes !

I rest my case .

JessM Thu 18-Aug-16 22:31:37

Not sure what your point is gillybob?
My GC are similar but they have the kind of parents who are forever taking them to netball/swimming/basketball/martial arts etc
These are not the kids that get obese.
Even the supermarkets are unimpressed with this "strategy" - they would prefer a fairly regulated level playing field than all this persuasion.

willa45 Thu 18-Aug-16 23:46:52

It's simple economics. High quality, nutritionally safe food is more costly. Biophosphonates (BPA) in cans and plastic containers and RBST an added growth hormone in milk cows can play havoc with human endocrine systems, especially right before puberty. Children should consume organic (grass fed) beef, free range poultry, organic eggs and dairy along with produce that is grown without pesticides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers. The jury is also not out when it comes to genetically modified corn and wheat (GMOs). Unfortunately, the high quality foods I just mentioned are much more expensive than ordinary food. It's also no coincidence that cereal, pasta, candy, soda and fast food in general are the cheaper alternatives.
Statistically, poor families (in the US at least) who can't afford to buy BPA, hormone free organic food, suffer a much higher rate of obesity, especially among their pubescent children.

gillybob Fri 19-Aug-16 07:08:52

My point JessM is that it is not necessarily the food ( the quality or the quantity) it is the entire lifestyle to blame. If a child eats 3 good meals a day plus snacks and drinks (as mine do) and does lots of exercise then they are going to stay lean and healthy . A child eating the same but doing no exercise will become fat. It's simple. I mean sometimes you only have to look at the size of some of the parents to know that the child will become fat and I'm not sure what you can do about that ?

obieone Fri 19-Aug-16 07:15:20

This is part of the problem with a nanny state. Sometimes nanny state is not best and certainly does not work in our best interest some of the time.

thatbags Fri 19-Aug-16 07:22:41

May has said that government needs to focus of the economy and that is why she's not pursuing this strategy at the moment. I haven't got the impression she has ruled it out entirely, only that it is on hold. Given all the predictions of economic gloom and doom that were spouted before Brexit, I'd have thought people would understand this stance of hers.

I've read two articles in the Times this morning on the subject, including one by Jamie Oliver. Even allowing for his complete commitment, I can still see May's point of view. She has even more complicated and difficult problems to deal with. This one can go on hold for the time being.

DaphneBroon Fri 19-Aug-16 07:36:49

I am not really worried by a lack of government action, in fact Inam not at all worried as I do not think matters of how we feed our children should be passed upwards to a higher authority. People need to take responsibility for what IS within their control and what we put in our mouths falls into that category. Of course there needs to be legislation which applies to manufacturers to endure we are not left in the dark or misled over food contents, but frankly it is none of the government's business what I put on the table or eat. There have been too many "fads" over recent years which have proved to be unfounded if not downright misleading - marge /spread instead of butter, low fat but padded out with sugars and starch, high carb/low carb, sugar free but artificial sweeteners, so-called "healthy options" with precious few natural ingredients.
No, I don't actually want the government to meddle.

gillybob Fri 19-Aug-16 07:42:24

My eldest DGD (10) knows quite a lot about the food we eat including vitamins, colourings, additives etc. as she does a healthy eating class at school . She loves cooking too and lists all the foods and ingredients in a traffic light system Green you can eat as much as you like, Amber eat in moderation, Red only eat occasionally . I don't know if all
Schools do this? If not they should .

thatbags Fri 19-Aug-16 07:45:18

Well said, db. All the parents I know who have been careful about what their kids eat and how much, and who have talked to their kids about healthy choices (educated them), do not have obese kids.

BlueBelle Fri 19-Aug-16 07:47:41

What really annoys me is the chocolate /biscuits /crisps and soft drink dispensers in high schools, I've seen them in sports centres and hospital corridors too Of course the kids will use them

obieone Fri 19-Aug-16 07:48:09

I dont agree thatbags.
Childhood obesity and adult obesity is too important and expensive an issue, to not have help from Government.

obieone Fri 19-Aug-16 07:51:57

It isnt the kids of the parents that you are talking about thatbags and others. It is the other parents that need the Government help.

DaphneBroon Fri 19-Aug-16 07:52:42

And on the other hand Blue belle we get primary schools banning little boxes of raisins in lunch boxes as being "unhealthy"?
I personally think if you have been burning up energy in a sports centre you are perfectly entitled to a chocolate bar if you so choose, and have been known myself to collapse like a starving man on a packet of totally unhealthy crisps or a KitKat while spending hours with DH in A&E.
I will never support legislation which deprives me of the ability to make my own decisions.

DaphneBroon Fri 19-Aug-16 07:55:23

But obieone legislation is not selective. It doesn't just apply to "other people" whose kids may or may not be overweight. It applies to you and me whether we like it or need it or not.
And legislation is not, repeat not , "help".

MaizieD Fri 19-Aug-16 07:57:02

I don't see it as meddling with our right to feed our children fattening foods; I see it as attempting to control the sale of hazardous substances.

gillybob Fri 19-Aug-16 07:59:51

My DGC's school have "lunch box police" ( DGD's words not mine) who patrol the lunch hall and confiscate anything they consider to be unhealthy . Funnily enough the two ladies who do it are bloody enormous and probably eat everything they take away !

obieone Fri 19-Aug-16 08:08:25

True, very true DaphneBroon about legislation not being selective.

I would disagree with you about legislation being help though, in this instance at least. And agree with MaizieD.

I sometimes think this. If the legislation had come in, would there be people[general public not lobbying bodies] trying to get it taken away? I doubt it, though I could be wrong.

Which bits of it would people have been most annoyed about?

Anya Fri 19-Aug-16 08:15:00

It's a myth that junk food is the only cheap alternative. Vegetables are generally much better value and a better option if you're on a budget. Add some meat, fish, cheese, eggs etc and you can produce a tasty cheap meal.

Not all 'poor families' have obese, unhealthy families that's a myth.

Many families provide healthy, nutritious meals on a limited budget. But it's certainly 'easier' just to grab a ready made cheap meal and bung it in the oven.

gillybob Fri 19-Aug-16 08:21:25

Good food is expensive and I can totally understand why some parents feel that giving a child in a buggy a sausage roll ( or whatever) to eat is far easier and cheaper than buying the ingredients and producing a healthy balanced meal . But how do we make these people understand that once in a blue moon that's fine but not everyday .