Headlines this week have slammed Kelloggs for the sugar content of their Frosties. The line that jumped out at me on the article I just read (<–linked over there!) says:
Last week, an OECD report found 26.6 per cent of British girls were obese and 22.7 per cent of boys – almost twice the level in France
This says almost half of all children in the UK are obese. Now, a lot of people – parents or not! – would read that line, tut and shake their heads. Let’s address a few points about why children are classified as obese now:
- BMI (body mass index), which is used to calculate obesity does not take into account bone or muscle mass.
When I was pregnant, I was berated by a midwife because my BMI stated I was obese. I was referred to a consultant at the hospital for blood tests for gestational diabetes, for which I was clear of. The consultant took one look at me and asked me why I was there. Husband and I laughed, and said I was obese so needed consultant care. She checked my weight against my height and said to me I didn’t look like I was obese and sent me away! My BMI didn’t take into account the muscle weight from years of martial arts.
This being said, many children get weighed and there is an ‘average’ weight for a child’s height. However, not every 7 year old will be the same height. So one 7 year old could be 5 inches taller than another, and be the same weight, but one will be classed as obese and one as healthy. Therefore, I believe that the OECD report mentioned above is a load of fucking shit.
- Children now spend too much time indoors and on games consoles than outside playing.
When I was 10 years old I was growing up in London. We didn’t have a local park that was 2 minutes away but we did spend hours and hours playing 40/40 home and hide and seek in the street. We also had a huge paved area out back where we would spend most weekends playing football. We had a games console, but the freedom of being outside and the fact my Mum limited our time on it, meant we were always playing and had fresh air. We were also involved in karate from a young age twice a week.
Now, due to the rise of paedophilia, child kidnap, scared and busy parents and lazy kids, it’s easier to plonk them in front of a brand new Xbox 360 or PS3 than take them to the local park. Kids don’t want footballs and swingball to play with, they want an new iPhone (yes, 8 year olds seem to have these now!) or a new shoot ’em up game. Hours and hours of sitting in front of something that gives them square eyes. They just don’t get exercise now. Not to mention, schools and youth clubs put the price of activities through the roof now! A friend of mine wanted her daughter to do gymnastics and found it to be £10 PER SESSION, which is ridiculous! How can you encourage children to get involved when you will charge parents the Earth to do it? They also took away a lot of parks in the UK, for ‘health and safety reasons’. We are in a world full of idiots who sue the nearest Tom, Dick or Harry if their precious baby scrapes their knee when they fall off a climbing frame. No parks for children to play = lazy indoor children. PE sessions per week at schools has also changed from twice a week to 45 minutes a week…well, that’s helpful. NOT.
- Fruit and vegetables, unless frozen, is effing expensive!
I am a regular Asda shopper (and when I say regular, I go all the bloody time, it’s just so good!). Anyway, Asda are brilliant because of their offers. Biscuits, crisps, ice cream, burgers, milkshakes, cakes, bread and fizzy drinks are ALWAYS on offer. I can get (and did!) a multipack of 22 bags of Quavers for £2. TWO POUNDS. I buy a bag of Roosters Potatoes, and that cost me £2.45. This right here, this is the problem. Food that is better for you – potatoes being a vegetable of the ground which you can chip, mash, boil and roast – is always more expensive. We once did a shop that was purely healthy. Broccoli, grapes, bananas, porridge, brown bread, low fat butter, fresh fish, chicken breasts (which are £6 a pack of 3!), cereal bars, milk – all of this cost more than £30 and that’s before you add in toiletries, laundry things, juice, water and yoghurt. A shop of ‘crap food’ like frozen chips, pizzas, noodles, burgers and hotdogs, along with biscuits and cakes for snacks, costs under £30 and will feed a family for a week.
Cash strapped families in a recession are FAR more likely to buy shopping that costs less but fills up tummies than a green shop of healthy food and snacks. Children will get fed crap, and not exercise (see above!) and then put on weight, and the first thing to be done is ban sugary food and tax fizzy drinks…
What a crock of shit! The first thing they should do is LOWER the cost of the healthier food and meat. Pay supermarkets a bonus for charging a lot less for their fresh food. I know for a fact I would buy more fruit if it didn’t cost almost £5 for a kilo of grapes (it does!). But why spend £5 on one bag of fruit when I can buy 5 frozen pizzas for that? The next thing they need to do, is rebuild local parks and lower the cost of youth activities like football. I know clubs need to make a profit, but if the halls and equipment wasn’t so bloody expensive the prices would be more reasonable, therefore encouraging both parents and kids to get more involved. This all has a ripple effect on the children that they are tutting at, for being overweight.
- My last and final point: Parents who can’t say no…
This isn’t always the case in childhood obesity, but for a small minority it is a factor. Those big eyes that plead at you for some cake, a little bit more chocolate, just a slice..go on… Unfortunately there are parents out there that cannot say no. I read in That’s Life magazine last night about a mother who would give her son a pack of biscuits (he was 6) each time he played up. Used food as a way to shut him up and let him play, or to show her love for him with a big chocolate cake. I’m all for treats, I had treats as a child, but that is extreme. Then when he began being bullied at school for his weight, she realised what she had been doing. She had been teaching him that food meant love, and when he asked she never said no, using the phrase ‘he is a growing boy, he needs all he can get’. This just isn’t true. At all. Food doesn’t mean love and shouldn’t mean love for a child especially.
I love Frosties. I hope they don’t ban them and I hope they start actually thinking before they go slapping stupid taxes on everything else. For now though…