Childhood obesity – How did we get here?
Recently a Teacher friend returned to her former school from a teaching post abroad. Whilst overseas she qualified as a Nutritionst and developed a healthy product range to include delicious protein balls and treats- naming them FUEL YOUR ROOTS.
To her dismay the biggest selling items in the school shop are crisps and fizzy drinks and the common lunchbox item is a slice of leftover pizza. And we wonder why we have a childhood obesity issue with little girls being taken to Bridal Shops to buy their First Communion Dress.
What is happening?
Is it the lack of time, money, awareness or mass marketing of low costs high sugar treats?
Now with Halloween on our doorstop, we see all the major retailers promoting cheap sweets and treats.
Growing up in a busy home in rural Ireland, a treat was a packet of biscuits once per week but my practical Mother always had a homemade fruit cake in a tin. Cheese, tomato, egg and cold meat were the common sandwich fillings and weight was never an issue. Lunches were often made the night before, after dinner and the aforementioned sweet cake!
Healthy Treats need to be promoted in shops at the right price point, parents may need advice and tips about healthy eating and meal planning. As a working Mother, I batch cook on Sundays for the week ahead, making my life easier and better.
Having said that our local shop has delicious salads in the Grab n Go section for as little as 3 euro for when I am lazy or not as well organised.
Parents must understand the importance of their role in preventing obesity from birth right through to adolescence. Perhaps this can be achieved through effective education and interventions. Many parents are unaware of appropriate portion sizes for their children or how many portions of fruit (2 portions) and vegetables (5 portions) they require to ensure a balanced diet.
Creches, schools and colleges can positively contribute through “healthy eating policies”, ensuring there are healthy, nutritionally balanced and cost effective options available to their students. Education also plays a key role here with guidance required on acceptable lunch/snack options. It goes without saying that Physical Education in our schools must create an awareness of the role of exercise in maintaining health and preventing obesity. Not many people are aware that a hot chicken role purchased from a deli counter contains a whopping 1,000 calories, and takes over 90 minutes running to work off!
Education is key!