Childhood Obesity Plan: What Do You Think?

Childhood Obesity Plan: What Do You Think?
18 August 2016

Does your child's sugar intake worry you? And is childhood obesity an issue that concerns you or which you think the Government should take serious steps to address?

Well, it looks like Theresa May isn't in a hurry to help, judging by the childhood obesity plan unveiled by the Government today.

Critics have condemned the plan for not being far-reaching enough, and Jamie Oliver – who has urged the Government to tackle childhood obesity – described the plan as a "disappointing and, frankly, underwhelming strategy" which puts "the health of our future generations at stake".

I have to agree that it seems feeble. Many of the measures it outlines are voluntary recommendations rather than mandatory rulings, and it seems everyone expected something much more robust than cutting 5% of sugar in food and drink products over the next year and 20% by 2020.

As a mum of three the issue of sugary foods is something of a battleground in my house on a daily basis so I feel that the Government has let us down on this issue.

We know that reducing kids' sugar intake is an issue that Playpennies parents feel strongly about, too, judging by the volume of requests we get to hunt down bargains on everything from sugar-free advent calendars to no-added-sugar Easter eggs.

I just debated this very issue on the radio with BBC Hereford and Worcester's Andrew Easton, who suggested that parents should take more responsibility for their part in the childhood obesity crisis, and even accused us of ferrying our kids to school in cars instead of walking, feeding them unhealthy dinners and then "sitting around eating chips" and hoping for the best rather than taking an active role on our children's health and nutrition.

Obviously I disagree and – as I said on Andrew's show – I think it's nothing short of immoral that the Government has failed to ban TV advertisements for unhealthy foods before the 9pm watershed, and abandoned plans to ban junk food from supermarket checkouts. What a missed opportunity.

The sugar levy on soft drinks is good news but even that's not enough because for many parents of younger children, sugary drinks aren't the problematic products – it's things like sugar-laden breakfast cereals emblazoned with cartoon characters to make them appeal to children, and the advertising of high sugar products and junk food promotions targeted at our kids.

The plan's proposals around encouraging children to exercise at school every day is sound, but how seriously is the average school really going to take what the Government has unashamedly called a 'voluntary' measure? Are under-resourced schools really going to add an hour of exercise because the Government has effectively said it would be nice if they did?

And don't get me started on the Government's failure to ban sweets from supermarket checkouts. Our politicians had a whopping opportunity to make it easier for parents to offer children healthy, nutritious food and drinks and I feel they've flaked out.

But we'd like to hear your thoughts on this topic. How concerned are you about childhood obesity, and how much thought do you give to your child's sugar intake? How do you feel about the Government's plan? Let us know by leaving us a comment below or joining the debate over on our Facebook page.

19 comments

  • Louise M.

    This is ridiculous, how on earth can you blame the govt for not banning sweets at checkouts and cartoon characters on cereal boxes, if you don't know how to say 'no' then there's the problem. Kids will ask for sweets/sugary cereals no matter what, parents are in control of what is bought prepared and given to kids at mealtimes or in between. It is more crazy that you could have an article like this blaming the government, that's just lazy....in my opinion of course :grin: and yes I do have two kids and experience daily treat requests and battles with grandparents/great grandparents

    • Sarah P.

      I've never bought any food/drink with cartoon characters on it, and I've a 3yo & 5yo, it's really not that difficult to say "sorry kids, that's junk!"

  • Claire B.

    I couldn't even go to superdrug today to buy baby wipes and not have the hassle of frigging kinder eggs next to the till, I expect it at the newsagents etc but was caught off guard so had to put up with a tantrum off my 3 year old - nowhere is safe!

  • Becky P.

    I think it's not the governments responsibility - they do not choose what is picked at the supermarket - blame the parents. My child loves snacking on healthy fruit and vegetables and knows that chocolate and take aways are an extra special treat

  • Kathryn S.

    Do children fill the trolley then pay for it at the checkout? No. The ultimate responsibility lies with the parent/guardian/carer.

  • Liz L.

    I do think the Government have a role to play in educating parents and children about healthy eating, but the final decision always rests with the the parents.

  • Lisa L.

    Parents should be held accountable, no one else. We buy food/treats and control what they eat. Yes my kids sometimes tantrum about having sweets etc but tough, I don't expect a 2 and 7 year old to get the bigger picture but I expect them to get I've said no, which means no. It's about us educating them so when they are old enough and we don't have as much control they make good choices.

  • Cath F.

    My three love fruit and would pick it over anything else. The government needs to ban all the advertising on tv for un healthy snacks for a start, then discourage added sugar and nasty bits in children's food. The number of mums I see buying ready made meals for babies to children. So with that in mind perhaps more needs to be done to encourage parents to cook healthy meals my little loves home cooked meals. Infact we cook from scratch. You know what's in the food, its cheaper and no nasty bits to make it taste nice and last longer... Parents shouldn't be afraid to say no to sugary snacks, and could in fact offer something healthy instead. Bananas and berries will offer them a sweet taste, along will other goodness.

  • Lisa G.

    I agree that at the end of the day the responsibility lies with parents/guardians. However I do think the government have a responsibility to provide an environment which makes the healthy option the easy option enabling people to make the best choices for their families and I think they missed out on an opportunity to do this today.

  • Louisa M.

    I think that people need to take responsibility for their own lives and stop trying to blame everyone else for their own poor choices. Most of us have been to school and have had lessons on what constitutes a healthy diet, whether we chose to listen or not was our own decision, whether we choose to follow these lessons or not now is our own choice and if you happened to miss that particular lesson because you were at McDonalds feasting on a Big Mac, you can use those sausage fingers to google what constitutes a healthy diet while you're sat on your backside, in bed one day.

    Where is the absurdity going to stop? Will the government be responsible for telling me how to wipe my own backside? because that seems to be what's happening here. Let's just sit back and wait for a public service announcement telling us that "hey, guess what? Drinking bleach/toilet water/paint might not be good for you neither" or we could go and drink a barrel load and then blame the government for not adding on a tax so that we don't drink it, good god, where's the common sense????

    The sugar in certain drinks is the only reason that I'm here and alive today and I'm now going to be penalised because some slap-dash pathetic excuse for an adult can't educate their child or control their own binging? Wonderful.

  • Katie M.

    Government should make schools do more exercises for children, that's the only part that is for them to sort the rest is for the parents. My son loves sweets but it's my job to say no you've had one today no more now try a banana or cheese and crackers. I have a 3 year old and he would pick fruit over a packet of crisps, it's my job to each him what to eat and yeah we have a battle over chocolate but he gets it for a treat and he's good with that answer! I don't like portion sizes being set for age and not size my son as I said is 3 and he's about 1.2m tall and weighs 2.13stone, he's a tall kid and will eat loads but he burns off loads and as I said he is tall not fat, so that needs to be taken into consideration when deciding what size portions a child has. But food is only one part of kids being obese the exercise needs addressing too and probably more than food issues!

    • Karen H.

      The excerise is up to parents too

    • Katie M.

      Karen Halton I know but with children being at school most of the week schools need to be made to get children exercising. And as I said that's the only thing I think government can be in charge of

  • Elizabeth L.

    It's also ignorant of the small minority for whom type 2 is not a lifestyle illness but an issue of genetic endocrinology (along with other conditions linked to insulin resistance). It's creating a world where type 1 is viewed as unlucky but type 2 is self-inflicted. It isn't as black & white as that.

  • Hannah C.

    It's not the governments fault. Whatever happened to saying no? It seems like people are reluctant to parent their own offspring these days! Get a grip people!

  • Cate M.

    As parents we need to take responsibility for our own actions! As a kid I knew what no meant when I asked for crap at the supermarket, as a parent we've had times when our kids have had far too much rubbish to eat but it needs to be balanced and you have to take responsibility for what your kids eat. We have 'sweetie Saturday' and they have fruit before any other snack, I keep ice lollies that are low fat/sugar so they have something sweet. It's not easy being the bad guy but isn't that our job as the parent?

  • Nikita P.

    I don't understand how sweets at the checkout are such a big deal? If you don't want your kid to have any just say no and move on. How are kids supposed to learn about moderation when these busybodies want to hide away all bad foods and temptation? As soon as kids are old enough to shop on their own they'll go mad and want it all!

  • Andy W.

    its the peoples fault would love to blame the gvt but cant they could make fruit cheaper and training centers more acessable in rural areas and junk food more expensive

  • Emily W.

    I think I'm quite lucky that my kids don't like most sugary food. They hate cakes sweets, donuts, my oldest had tried pop and hates it. The only thing they like really is crisp and biscuits. And I don't have any crisp in the house as I'm losing weight so if they're good on days out they can have a packet of crisps or a toy (usually pick a toy) and they have biscuits as a treat for good behaviour in the house. I do feel the best way to get around this is cutting down prices of fruit and veg and doing more in school or have classes outside of school for kids to get them into making proper food and knowing moderation and helping.

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