Last Word: Parents of obese kids should face legal action
LATEST figures released by the NHS have revealed that child obesity in Stevenage is a significant problem, writes Louise McEvoy. Nationally, the number of obese reception-aged children in 2007/08 stood at 9.6 per cent. In Stevenage, this figu
LATEST figures released by the NHS have revealed that child obesity in Stevenage is a significant problem, writes Louise McEvoy.
Nationally, the number of obese reception-aged children in 2007/08 stood at 9.6 per cent.
In Stevenage, this figure was significantly higher, at 12.6 per cent.
In North Herts and Central Beds the picture look brighter, with the number of obese reception-aged children in 2007/08 in North Herts significantly lower than the England average, at 6.4 per cent.
And in Central Beds, one child in 12 in reception in 2007/08 was classed as obese.
Obesity in children, to my mind, is a child protection issue. If a child is starved, social services would step in and legal action against its parents would be considered.
- 1 A1(M) closed in both directions near Letchworth
- 2 Plans approved for former Stevenage bus station site
- 3 Three arrested after cannabis, cash and phones seized
- 4 Lights stolen in Baldock burglary
- 5 Can you spot your school at Stevenage's Commonwealth Games Day?
- 6 11-year-old boy 'seriously injured' after e-scooter and car crash
- 7 Stevenage Armed Forces Day in pictures
- 8 North Herts Sanctuary announces plans to continue support amid service changes
- 9 Villagers pull together to support boy with life-limiting condition
- 10 Weston fraudster given jail time after scamming council out of £700,000
The case should be the same if a child is overfed, or fed junk food with little or no nutritional value. After all, it is child neglect.
Obesity is too often blamed on the fat gene, or glands, or being big-boned. But it is over indulgence and, for obese children, a lack of parental control that is the real problem.
I have heard parents say they face an uphill struggle to convince their children to eat healthily. But who is in charge? The adults, surely.
When I was a child, my mum would make me sit at the dinner table until I had eaten all the vegetables on my plate. There was no doubt that she was in charge and I knew it.
Sometimes I would be sat at the table on my own - my brothers having finished their meals and left - for what felt like a lifetime. But it didn't take long to learn that my mum would always win, so I began eating everything on my plate to avoid wasting precious playing time.
Fat children are more likely to be bullied, to have low self-esteem and to lack confidence.
There is fat chance of obese children leading a healthy, normal life. As well as facing developmental and heart problems, they are also at risk of diabetes, asthma, hypertension, high cholesterol and depression.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver did his best to wake up Britain with his campaign for healthier school dinners.
But the initiative, backed by the Government to the tune of �500m, has flopped.
Official figures show that up to 400,000 children have deserted school dinners since junk food was taken off the menus.
Take-up of school meals is only running at 39.3 per cent in primary schools and 35.1 per cent in secondary schools.
What caused the campaign to fail? Obstinate and ignorant parents, that's what. Without a doubt, the success of the campaign hinged on the backing of parents.
But, during Jamie's School Dinners TV series on Channel 4, parents were filmed smuggling chips and other junk food through the school gates to their children.
This act of defiance from the outset showed the campaign would fail, with parents' perception a real problem.
Parents should be held accountable for their child's health and I encourage legal protection for obese children, and action against their parents.