At the beginning of May 2014 Tesco initiated an important step in the fight to help improve the diets of young children. For many years consumers have campaigned about the marketing tactics of supermarkets where crisps and chocolate are placed around the stores at children's eye level - this results in children pestering parents to buy unhealthy snacks as they shop and pay for their shopping.
Tesco have moved and banned sweets, chocolate and crisps from the checkout aisles which is aimed to help stop parents from being pestered by their children during food shops. This is of course a very small step in the battle against increasing levels of childhood obesity which we examine further below:
33% of children in the UK eat junk food every day
A survey of almost 1500 parents with a child of 10 or under by www.VoucherCodesPro.co.uk was reported by the Daily Mail. The survey analysed the shopping habits of the parents and revealed that the average spend on junk food per month was £26 per child.
The results also revealed that 20% of parents admitted to regularly lying to others about how much junk food (such as pizza, chips, crisps and chocolate) their children ate for fear of being judged by their friends and family. In addition to this, 25% admitted lying because they harboured guilt over the quantity of junk food they allowed their children to eat.
An alarming confession by parents
Almost 50% of the parents surveyed readily acknowledged that they thought they children were overweight, this was despite them being in control of the children's food and knowingly giving them the junk food. A figure of 33% of the parents also believed their child's consumption of junk food was out of control.
Awareness of the health issues associated with obesity is hoped to help fight issue
For a number of years the food industry has been under increasing pressure to respond to the growing figures of obesity and undertake a responsibility to ensure consumers are aware of what they are buying.
Food packaging is now required by law to detail the make-up of the product/ingredients so people can easily see how much fat, sugar, protein, carbohydrates etc is contained within that product, this is true for both supermarkets and is being increasingly adopted by fast food chains and restaurants. Awareness of the effects of too much fat and sugar in people's diets has arguably never been greater but yet the issue of obesity continues to grow not shrink.
The reason that a focus on children is particularly important is that their diets are predominately influenced by the parents. Children do not buy or cook their food and ultimately what they eat when away from home is also largely dictated by parents as it is they who pay for it.
Diet is key to the growth and progression of children during maturity
A child's diet plays a crucial part in their development. The quality and balance of a child's diet is very important to their physiological growth, amongst other things it ensures their immune systems are strong, their organs grow properly and their bones grow strong and straight e.g. cases of rickets are on the increase in the UK due to an increase in Vitamin D deficiency. It is also known that diet can effect cognitive behaviours such as concentration and memory which then effects a child's education.
Where and what to do next?
Despite all of the facts above it comes as no surprise that the finger points directly at the parents when discovering facts such as the survey reported and we are left wondering what more can be done to lessen the problems and improve the prospects and health of future generations.