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Obesity Epidemic: Experts give their views
3:30pm Saturday 2nd March 2013 in News
In the week that the Daily Echo revealed one in five of the city's under fives is obese, we spoke to two experts to gauge their opinion on what can be done to fight the fat, and who should be responsible.
Priya Tew, of dietitianuk.co.uk is an award-winning dietitian and nutritionist from Bitterne Park whose work includes hosting healthy eating on a budget courses and advising mums on children’s nutrition.
“It is a misconception that children who are overweight only come from socially deprived areas.
“I see working adults who are professional people and often they don’t know what to cook their children in the evening.
“Food culture has changed a lot over the past 20 years. Parents are cooking processed foods like fish fingers, chips, chicken nuggets or ready meals. It’s really important that we get back to preparing food from fresh rather than relying on convenience.
“It is about going back to basics and having plenty of fresh fruit and veg. The latest horse meat scandal only goes to show that rather than buying meatballs say, people should be buying raw meat and making food with it.
“The food industry does play a role with many products high in fat, salt and sugar but we can’t bury our heads in the sand and blame that entirely. Parents must be responsible and they must think about how they are going to demonstrate healthy eating patterns to their children to become role models for them. I have a two-year-old daughter and she only has chocolate as a special treat but that means only three chocolate buttons. Three young children are sat around my table now as we speak and they are all sharing one packet of crisps between them.
“I think it is really important to support parents and educate them how to cook and how to feed their children, and to show people that it really needn’t be expensive. For example I went to my local butcher and he cut up two whole chickens into breasts, thighs, wings and it cost £7. Often the supermarkets have fruit and veg on offer. I picked up a butternut squash for 50p the other day and people could even grow vegetables and fruit in their gardens.
“It comes down to education, the combination of healthy eating, cooking from scratch, portion control and getting kids active and making sure they are getting out in the garden or the park on a daily basis rather than them sitting in front of the TV.”
Dr Nigel Watson, pictured, is a GP at the Arnewood Practice in New
Milton and is chief executive of the Wessex Local Medical Committee,
which represents 3,000 GPs in Hampshire, Dorset, the Isle of
Wight, Jersey and Guernsey.
He also represents Hampshire and the Isle of Wight on the British Medical Association’s (BMA) National Committee of GPs and leads a commissioning committee within the BMA, which has seen him become part of the Department of Health’s Commissioning Group.
THE main cause of obesity is the change of lifestyle.
If you compare children 30 years ago to today it is about the simple things.
Children were simply much more active than they are today.
They were out at 9am playing on bikes out in the woods, back at lunch time, back out again.
The TV didn’t come on until 4pm, there were no computers on.
There are all sorts of reasons why children don’t go out as much these days but they spend too much time sat in front of the TV playing the computer not being active.
The next stage is the diet.
I can remember being a child and sitting down to an evening meal all together but the pace of life has changed a lot and people rely on convenience food.
Sweets, pop, chocolate, crisps are OK in moderation but seem to be a
main part of the diet for many people.
We live in a society where people live on junk food and eat less healthily
but are less active too.
It is partly due to parents, partly someone’s genetic make-up.
Some parents are put under huge pressure by adverts on TV, the children see the sweets advertised and that is what they want when they go
You can’t go more than half a mile without seeing a McDonalds or a Burger
King and this is what is in children’s minds.
Sometimes parents do it not out of malice but out of kindness.
They think they are giving comfort food but in reality it is being cruel to their
children because it will impact their health later in life.
But it’s not just the parents, children will often buy sweets with their pocket money.
These days more and more people are obese so it seems being overweight
is the norm for them.
We need society to take some action and we need the food industry to be more responsible because the formative years are really important and if a child is obese, they are more likely to develop health problems as adults.