Saturday, 30 October 2010

Child obesity 'time bomb'

...is today's headline on Nursing Times. Not only do calorie-dense, nutrient-poor junk-foods make children fatter than they should be, they may also turn them into junk-food junkies.

See The Science of Food Addiction , How Junk Foods Hijack the Brain , I'm a secret lemonade drinker... and Dopamine and Obesity: The Food Addiction?

It's currently illegal to advertise cigarettes & alcohol to and/or sell them to children. Would it help to tackle the child obesity problem by making it illegal to advertise sweets, chocolate, crisps, cakes, biscuits, sugary drinks & take-away foods to and/or sell them to children?

10 comments:

Valda Redfern said...

The solution is education, not force - and of course the government is manifestly unfit to provide education of any sort. There's a clear case for prohibiting children from buying alcohol: the physical and mental impairments resulting from alcohol consumption are apparent within minutes, so it doesn't take a fifteen-year study to determine that children should not be sold drink. The same, of course, applies to drugs.

The ill-effects of cigarette smoking, wheat and sugar consumption are much less immediate, and hence much more difficult to establish. A child who eats a packet of crisps and a Mars bar isn't going to fall over in a stupor or go on a crazed rampage, so his immediate safety is not in question. Therefore it is as wrong for government - which doesn't, and can't, know squat about nutrition - to ban certain foods as it is to promote them.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Children don't stop at just one packet of crisps or one Mars bar. I ate a lot of chocolate, cake, biscuits, crisps & sugary drinks when I was young and was fat despite playing in the street with my friends.

If I had been taught that these foods & drinks were bad for me, I think that I would have still have eaten & drunk them as they were delicious.

lightcan said...

Hi Nige,

there is an article in the New Scientist about the science of food addiction and the dopamine receptors in the brain. I think in April 2010;
related to the issue I found this
http://www.foodnavigator.com/Science-Nutrition/Food-addiction-Fat-may-rewire-brain-like-hard-drugs

http://scienceblogs.com/neurotopia/2010/03/dopamine_and_obesity_the_food.php

I got rid of all the crap sweets that the kids got for Halloween, a bagful, and only kept a few small chocolate bars, one for each Friday until Christmas, on their treat day, too much as it is, anyway, but zero tolerance is hard to implement.

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Hi lightcan. Thanks for those links.

Yesterday in Aldi, while waiting in a checkout queue, a 3 or 4 year old girl had a tantrum because her mum refused to buy her sweets. Junk-food junkies are getting younger and younger.

lightcan said...

It might be one of the September issues, sorry, it's around the house somewhere. Well, I definitely have something wrong with my reward brain circuitry, what you might call an 'addictive personality', if not chocolate, then double thick cream, if not Lost boards, then paleo health blogs.

lightcan said...

I only saw your answer now. Tantrums, what are those? That's the parent's fault. Who's in control? We never buy sweets in the supermarket, and no means no. My 5 year old says his friend Carl from his class likes sweets and I say, well he had to have 11 cavities filled, do you want that? What do you think the answer is?

Nigel Kinbrum said...

Her dealer (sorry, I mean mum) said "no", so there was screaming & stamping of feet. That didn't work, so she stopped.
The girl wasn't at all fat, but she wasn't old enough to buy sweets herself.

I wonder whether banning me from buying junk when I was school age would have made me slimmer? I did eat some junk at home.

CarbSane said...

Hi Nige! When I reckon back to my childhood in the 60's and 70's here in the USA, we had all the same sorts of goodies around that we do today. Ya know what was different? I think I only knew of a handful of kids who had only one parent, and most households were single income earners with one parent (usually Mom) whose job was to raise the kidlets.

I remember my folks regulating what we as kids did and didn't eat, both in the home, and to the extent possible outside. Had they not I would have chosen all sorts of crap to eat. As it were, I was, if anything, underweight as a kid because I ate nutritious food but was extremely active. When we had pizza it was maybe a slice and a half along with homemade veggie soup.

Here in the US we had school milk programs back in my day. This has morphed into school lunch, then breakfast and lunch, and now in some districts dinner. Even with generous food stamps we have to feed our kids all their meals at school???? And yet, these kids are not undernourished (malnourished perhaps ...)

It is a sad state here to see all these fat kids. It's so not their fault because kids are going to eat what's tastiest, not what's good for them. But governments are absolutely the worst body to do anything effective about it.

One thing I admire about the LC community is the search for knowledge and understanding of what is or is not healthy regardless of what public (and private) institutions tell them is. I believe a good healthy dose of self-reliance (and therefore decision making on one's own behalf) is what is needed.

:)

Nigel Kinbrum said...

I'm glad that we have the internet nowadays. It makes it so much easier for people with enquiring minds to find out stuff.


If we can't trust the government to do the right thing (it looks like the UK Department of Health may put fast food companies at the heart of policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease as per McDonald's and PepsiCo to help write UK health policy ) and feckless parents won't do the right thing, what's the solution?

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