Junk diets start at home

02/08/2010

Is anyone surprised that a lot of children have junk diets at home?

A bit more fat and sugar and the extra kilojoules which go with them now and then isn’t a problem, it’s what you eat most of the time which makes a diet healthy or not.

You only have to look at what’s available on supermarket shelves to work out that a lot of people must be eating more of the food which ought to be reserved for occasional treats more often than they should.

 Food and drink that used to be reserved for celebrations like birthdays or Christmas – crisps, sweets, take aways, fizz – are almost staples for some families.

A generation or two ago homemade food was the norm. Some of us still cook from scratch, or nearly scratch,  when we know exactly what’s going into your meals most of the time but a lot of people don’t.

Poverty is one of the reasons for this. If you have little or nothing for  discretionary spending  price matters more than nutrition and a lot of the highly processed high energy foods are cheaper than healthier alternatives.

Ignorance is another – some people simply don’t know what a healthy diet is and how to cook it.

Even if you do know the sort of food you’re supposed to eat most of, most of the time, unless you study nutritional information on packaged food, which is almost always in tiny print which is difficult to read , it’s easy to be miss high levels of fat and sugar in what you might think is “healthy” food.

Then there’s time, or lack of it. When you’re busy it’s very tempting to resort to ready-to-eat meals which are usually more energy dense than to cook from scratch.

Any or all of these contribute to unhealthy eating and too much energy going in is compounded by too little energy going out.

Children have a lot more choices of indoor activities than they used to. Sections are smaller so it’s harder for kids to get incidental exercise playing at home and fears, often groundless, of dangers outside their properties make parents loathe to let their offspring go too far away.

All of these contribute to valid concerns about more people being overweight and under fit.

Solving that isn’t easy, but schools may take some comfort from the survey because it shows what happens between nine and three is a small part of  a much bigger problem.


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