Parents should give their children carrots and apples when they get home from school rather than chocolate or cereal bars. PICTURE: Supplied
Parents should give their children carrots and apples when they get home from school rather than chocolate or cereal bars.
Simon Stevens is urging families to adopt ‘draconian’ household rules to help prevent obesity. He also said children should have water to drink when they get home because they would need to run around for an hour to burn off a bottle of cola. Latest figures show that as many as a third of pupils are overweight when they leave primary school aged 11. A fifth of them are obese.
These rates have steadily risen over the past decade and the Government and food manufacturers have been accused of failing to take action. Yesterday a scathing report by MPs described the current anti-obesity strategy as ‘inadequate’ – and called for an outright ban on discount deals for junk food.
Mr Stevens, who has a 13-year-old son and eight year-old daughter, said it was about ‘creating the right habits for children from a very early age’. He added: ‘As parents, do we spot that children are often not having the greatest diet and are piling on the pounds?
‘One in ten children are obese when they start primary school, one in five when they leave primary school. It’s a higher proportion in certain parts of the country. ‘It’s a day by day, week by week effect of snacking on sugary drinks, crisps and chocolate. ‘Some of this is about creating the right habits for our right children from a very early age.
‘That means after school, come home, water not a fizzy drink and it means an apple or a carrot rather than a bar. This may sound a bit draconian but it can be simple. ‘Even thinking about grownups now as well as children when you look back over 20 years why we’ve become so overweight it’s really only a 100 calories a day, day in day out, which is what piles it on over time.’
He said that if a ten- or 11-year-old child drank a 500ml bottle of fizzy drink, they would need ‘to go running for nearly an hour to burn that off.’ He said: ‘No child is going to go running for an hour having had one bottle of fizzy drink. Those are the kind of things parents have got to help with.’Mr Stevens also criticized the supermarket discounts at the end of aisles and checkout tills on biscuits, chocolate bars and crisps to tempt parents and children.
‘These till based promotions, end of aisle deals, we’re more exposed to that than we used to be and more exposed than lots of other countries as well,’ he said. Yesterday MPs on the Commons health committee said the Government’s obesity strategy – published in the summer – was disappointing and inadequate. Far tougher measures were needed to address the crisis, they said in a report – including a ban on supermarket discounts on crisps, biscuits and chocolate.
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