Should calories be on children’s menus?

Should calories be on children’s menus?

This question came up when the Nottingham Post contacted me recently about a local woman who was worried calorie information on children’s menus could encourage, amongst other things eating disorders

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There is no getting away from the fact that child obesity is on the increase; in England the latest data* shows that nearly 23% of 4-5 year olds and 34% of 10-11 year olds are either overweight or obese.  The NHS under certain circumstance will even carry out bariatric surgery (gastric bands etc) on children; 23 operations for patients aged 12-17 were undertaken between 2011 – 2013

obesity

As with many things the answer of whether or not children’s meals should carry calorie data is not that simple.

Growing children have high calorie needs for bone, brain and muscle development, they are also (generally) more active and therefore need a full range of different foods to supply those calories.

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But why all the concern in the first place, surely a few extra cakes, biscuits, cans of fizzy drinks or burgers can’t do that much harm, Can they?!

According to the NHS

Children who are overweight or obese can develop health problems during childhood because of their weight. Health problems can include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, fatty liver disease, gallstones and risk factors for heart disease. These health problems have traditionally been problems just affecting adults, with overweight and obese adults having an increased risk of developing them. But because of the rises in the levels of childhood obesity, some of these obesity-related health problems are now affecting younger people.

 

If manufacturers and retailers go down this route maybe a traffic light system may be the better option.  Red; approach with caution (occasional treat), Amber; have as part of a balanced diet and Green; ‘fill your boots’

And finally I think the best way for children to learn how to eat healthily is to be guided by a parent, grandparent or carer.  So us adults have to lead by example and learn to love our veggies, especially the green leafy kind and all those wonderful and colourful vegetables and fruits, snack on fresh fruit, drink plenty of water, limit the amount of processed and fast food that’s available and as family get active

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There is lots of advice out there to help you and your families to make healthy choices, check out these websites: British nutrition foundation, NHS, gov.uk-school meals, children food trust, eat better start better

Or simply look though my blog and find family friendly recipes and dishes.  I also offer nutritional advice and cooking lessons that are all family friendly

Do you want to lose weight

* House of commons briefing paper Obesity Statistics Number 3336, 20 March 2018

Childhood obesity amongst poorer families

Childhood obesity amongst poorer families – should we be concerned?

For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/

 

As a nutrition coach I have noticed that sugar smart 4more of my clients are concerned about the weight issues affecting their whole family, including the children.  It seems that some parents are really worried and don’t know what to do.

 

Not only are parents worried but Government organisations are too.  Public Health England (PHE) this week said that children from poorer backgrounds are more likely to be obese than their weather classmates. Traditionally, poverty has been associated with malnutrition and thinnness

PHE found that overweight and obese children are eating an extra 500 calories a day, that could lead to a 1lb or ½ a kilo weight gain a week

The issue of obese children has also come to the attention of Notts TV.  They came to interview me a few years ago.  Here’s a short clip of the interview that was later aired on ‘The 6.30 show’

 

So why do we have this potential epidemic? 

I don’t believe there is one simple issue or factor, I think it is a combination of the following (and probably more):

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  • Lack of knowledge and education about healthy eating.
  • The availability of food (on the way to school, at school, after school, at the weekend, in the cinema etc),
  • Too much sugary and processed food
  • Lack of exercise and activity
  • Overweight parent(s)

 

 

This week I was also taking to Gem106 radio about why this trend is happening

People’s perception could be that fresh vegetables and fruit are expensive, but that isn’t necessarily the case

If you have concerns about your child’s weight what should you do?

  • First get their BMI etc confirmed by your GP or from the National Childs Measurement Programme data
  • Get support from the GP or a support group
  • Look at portion controlkids portion size
  • Encourage your child, tell them they are great, boost their confidence
  • Don’t make it all about weight loss
  • Find fun family things to do that encourage activity (and burns calories)
  • Get cooking together, include more veggies and fruit
  • Make sure they are well hydrated as thirst is often mistaken for hunger.  Water or milk is the preferred drink
  • Regain your motivation for home cooking- as a trained chef I can help you get back your cooking confidence with my vegan cooking classes, in West Bridgford.  These take place during the day and early evening

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Phone to book your place 07946 301338

  • Exercise can be as important as diet.  To lose weight effectively and to maintain a healthy weight it is always best to both eat sensibly and to exercise regularly.

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  • The Governments recommends  that children and young people aged 5-18 need to do:
    • At least 60 minutes  of physical activity every day, such as cycling and playground activities and fast running and tennis.
    • On three days a week, these activities should involve muscle and bone strengthening activities like push-ups, skipping or running.
  • Get some healthy eating advice; that could be from the school, the GP or a nutrition coach like me. I have recently been talking about this very subject on Notts TV so please Contact me on 07946 301338 for a free consultation.

If you are unsure where to start to make a healthy change for your family, have a look at some of my previous blog posts where you will find guidance, advice and healthy eating recipes, or come and see me for a one to one nutrition session

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