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.

children menu

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

The sugar tax and sugary drinks

The sugar tax and sugary drinks

On 6th April 2018 the new sugar tax came in to force, meaning manufacturers have to pay a levy on the high-sugar drinks they sell.  Drinks with more than 8g per 100ml will have a tax rate equivalent to 24p per litre.  Those containing 5-8g of sugar per 100ml, a slightly lower rate of tax, of 18p per litre.   In many cases the tax has been passed on to the consumer.

Pure fruit juices will be exempt as they do not carry added sugar, and milky drinks will also be exempt due to their calcium content.

Ministers and campaigners already believe it to be a success, with many firms reducing sugar content ahead of the change. Leading brands such as Fanta, Ribena and Lucozade have cut the sugar content of drinks, but Coca-Cola has not.

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Yesterday was also a busy day for me with filming for Notts TV about less sugary cereal alternatives, an Interview with BBC Radio Nottingham’s Verity Cowley and a couple of mentions on Gem106 fm evening news

sugar tax

 

Firstly Notts TV

Sugary cereals are a big concern as many of us choose this option as our go to breakfast, some children can consume near 3 teaspoons of added sugar before they even leave the house in the morning

Two short 20 second clips from Gem 106

And this is the last of my media clips: a 6 minute chat with Verity Cowley on her BBC Radio Nottingham show

 

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Whether you restrict your sugar intake or switch to artificial sweeteners the best advice I can give you is to educate your pallet to expect less sweet food.

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

what i do

 

Calorie cuts

Calorie cuts

Food makers told to cut calories by 20% by 2024

These were the headlines last week

Public Health England says the target would slash costs to the NHS by £4.5bn and prevent more than 35,000 premature deaths

obesity

Overweight children are consuming between 300-500 calories a day extra, This could equate to a weight gain of 1lb or ½ kilo per week.  But it’s not just children that are facing this issue more than 60% of adults are also too heavy

PHE’s new strategy outlines 13 food categories, including sandwiches, ready meals, savoury biscuits, cooking sauces and potato products such as crisps and chips.

Food producers could make a number of changes, including reformulating products, promoting healthy options and reducing portion sizes.

But as with many of these issues it is not just up to one organisation to make changes, we all have a role to play in stemming this obesity epidemic.  Parents and families can be positive role models, local councils could look at how many fast food outlets are sited near schools, Schools themselves can be proactive in promoting healthy eating, setting up allotments, offering safe ‘walk to school’ schemes, and children have a role to play by making positive choices

I can also help by offering support and advice about how to make healthier changes

Last week I talked to Gem106 radio, here’s two very short snippets of their news items

How to cut up to 500 calories from a child’s diet

Get them more active – burns calories

Eating more veg – its filling and has fewer calories and makes the plate look full. If they don’t like veg use a blender to blitz veggies into a sauce, curry, chilli, shepherds pie or lasagna

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Use skimmed milk, plain low fat yoghurt (and add fresh or tinned fruit, in juice not syrup)

Don’t necessarily go for diet products as they can be high in sugar

Limit the amount of snacks and fast food a child eats – PHE records no more than two 100 calorie snacks a day

hummus veggie sticks Always have chopped fruit or veggie sticks in the fridge for children to snack on

Apps to help: change for life: sugar smart, food scanner

 

Children aged 4-10 are getting over 50% of their sugar intake from sweet treats

Each year children consume, on average, 400 biscuits, 120 cakes, buns and pastries, 100 portions of sweets, 70 chocolate bars and ice creams and 150 juice drink pouches and cans of fizzy drink

  • An ice cream – about 175 calories
  • A pack of crisps – 190 calories
  • A chocolate bar – 200 calories
  • A pastry – 270 calories

As well as calories that’s an awful lot of sugar.  Children should eat no more than 5-6 teaspoons of added sugar (also known as ‘free’ sugar) a day.  Yet the average daily consumption is more like three times that amount.

 

100 calorie snacks – max 2 a day

Individual packets (25g) of baked crisps

1 slice of malt loaf no butter

1 crumpet with small amount of butter, jam or marmite

fresh or tinned fruit salad (in juice)

chopped veg and hummus

rice cake

sugar free jelly

an oatmal biscuit

1 apple and 1 tbls wholenut peanut butter

a boiled egg

Is fast food making us fat?

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

Is fast food making us fat?

Should we be concerned about the number of fast food meals our family eats?  

The average UK diet appears to be in dire need of an overhaul.  It contains more than the recommended levels of sugar, salt and fat and less fruit and veg than the 5-a-day guidelines –  only 26% of adults met the fruit and veg target. 15 year olds fare much better with 52% stating they get their recommended daily intake *

This situation is not helped by the increase in the number of fast food outlets appearing on the high streets and in our suburbs

*  Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet England: 2017

The Guardian’s recent article about Takeaways has an interactive map showing the proliferation of fast food outlets.  Simply enter your location or post code.

Take-aways and ‘fast food’ tend to be high in fat, salt, calories and sugar; making them an unhealthy food choice when eaten regularly. It has also been shown that people who eat quickly and until full are more likely to be overweight.

 

fast food

Being overweight can lead to obesity, which if left unchecked can increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, raised blood pressure and some cancers. Currently ⅔ of adults and ⅓ of 10-11 year olds in England are obese or overweight.

Is there ‘good’ fast food?

Maybe, is the short answer. The longer answer is, choose your fast food wisely and make them an occasional treat rather than a daily necessity. Try and avoid the breadcrumbed versions, high calorie sauces, the thin cut fries, processed meat additions, calorie ladened ‘sides’ and the large bottles of fizzy drinks. Here are some examples of the good(ish), the bad and the downright ugly!

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The KFC Chicken flamin’ wrap has an acceptable 305 calories but nearly 3 teaspoons of fat and over ¼ teaspoon of salt and sugar.  And definitely keep away from their treats; the White Chocolate Krushems has 435 calories and a whopping 15 teaspoons of sugar.

To put that in to context, that’s double the government’s recommendation for the daily amount of added sugar 

The McDonald’s Filet-o-fish, which is probably one of the least fattening choices in their range still has 329 calories, 3 teaspoons of fat, ½  teaspoons of sugar and over ¼ teaspoons of salt. The other chains are similar; the lowest calorie Subway is roast chicken with 5 salad items at 306 calories, almost 1 teaspoon of fat, nearly 1½ teaspoons of sugar and over ¼ teaspoon of salt. It only remains that low if no dressings are added. However if you chose the Chicken and bacon ranch melt the calories etc increase – 503 calories, nearly 5 teaspoons of fat,  almost 2 teaspoons of sugar and over ½ teaspoon of salt.

And don’t be fooled by the salads; although the Subway Meatball Marinara salad only boasts a waist nipping 270 calories it contains over 3 teaspoons of sugar and nearly 4 teaspoons of fat.

You’d  also be wise not to assume that the vegetarian choice is the ‘healthier’ option.  In all cases a vegetarian burger, sub or wrap could contain more calories, salt, sugar and fat than the meat or fish basic version. For instance the McDonald’s vegetable deluxe has 400 cals, nearly 4 teaspoons of fat, 3 teaspoons of sugar and over ¼ teaspoon of salt

Probably the worst offenders of them all is Burger Kings Steakhouse king at 1100 calories and 24g of saturated fat, that’s over half a woman’s calorie consumption and all her saturated fat intake for the whole day!

And Dominos ‘scrummy’ small classic crust pizza – 1152 calories, almost 13 teaspoons of fat, 3 ½ teaspoons of sugar and almost 2 teaspoons of salt

On the good side if you are vegan, you will probably be an infrequent visitor to these places.  Thankfully (for some of you!) they haven’t yet incorporated many vegan options in to their menus.  All Dominos pizza bases include milk powder, you can enjoy Subways veggie delight (various salad items on a sub or salad), KFC, McDonalds and Burger King only have a few vegan sides like corn on the cob, fries, apple pie and green beans.

20623898_10154869962571903_22678629_nSo please don’t be in a rush to eat fast food