Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Junk" diet makes kids naughty

What utter crap! All the data show is that mothers who fed their kids disapproved food had kids who were less well behaved -- i.e. working class mothers had rattier children. It's entirely explicable as a class effect, not a diet effect

Eating junk food as toddlers makes kids more badly behaved at school, medics reveal today. Sugary and fatty snacks have been blamed for naughtiness and poor concentration, leading to campaigns for healthier lunches. But research has now found that if children are given bad diet as young as THREE the damage has already been done by the time they go to school.

Studies showed that pupils who had been fed processed grub as toddlers were the worst-behaved in class and performed the worst in tests. The findings emerged from a major study by the University of London's Institute for Education. The probe, part of the Bristol Children of the 90s medical research project, looked at data from 14,000 children. It found that those on a junk food diet aged three were less likely to achieve the expected levels of improvement between six and ten.

Dr Pauline Emmett, a nutritionist from the University of Bristol, said: "We are confident that this is a robust association. "It indicates that early eating patterns have effects that persist over time, regardless of later changes in diet. So it is very important for children to eat a well-balanced diet from an early age if they are to get the best out of their education." The study showed that a child's diet at a later age has less impact on their school performance.

Turkey twizzlers, burgers and chips have been blamed for behaviour problems and the Government has spent millions overhauling school meals following a campaign led by TV chef Jamie Oliver. Many schools have banned junk food completely as a result. Improved meals are expected to boost performance in the classroom.


British fat Fascists want to seize kids

Grossly overweight children may be taken from their families and put into care if Britain's obesity epidemic continues to escalate, council chiefs said yesterday. The Local Government Association argued that parents who allowed their children to eat too much could be as guilty of neglect as those who did not feed their children at all.

The association said that until now there had been only a few cases when social services had intervened in obesity cases. But it gave warning that local councils may have to take action much more often and, if necessary, put obese children on "at risk" registers or take them into care. It called for new guidelines to be drawn up to help authorities deal with the issue.

There have been some reported cases where children under 10 have weighed up to 14st (89kg) and a three-year-old has weighed 10st - putting them at a high risk of diabetes and heart disease. Only last week a 15-year-old girl in Wales was told by doctors that she could "drop dead at any moment" after tipping the scales at 33st.

David Rogers, the Local Government Association's public health spokesman, said that by 2012 an estimated million children would be obese and by 2025 about a quarter of all boys would be grossly overweight. "Councils are increasingly having to consider taking action where parents are putting children's health in real danger," he said. "As the obesity epidemic grows, these tricky cases will keep on cropping up. Councils would step in to deal with an undernourished and neglected child, so should a case with a morbidly obese child be different? If parents consistently place their children at risk through bad diet and lack of exercise, is it right that a council should step in to keep the child's health under review?"

"The nation's expanding waistline threatens to have a devastating impact on our public services. It's a huge issue for public health, but it also risks placing an unprecedented amount of pressure on council services."

The association called for a national debate on how much local authorities should intervene in obesity cases. As a basic minimum, social services or health visitors should talk to the families involved, give them advice and show them how to provide healthy meals. "But in the worst cases [the children] would need to be put on `at risk' registers or taken into care."

Last year Cumbria County Council put an eight-year old girl into care as she was dangerously overweight. Anne Ridgway, of Cumbria Primary Care Trust, said that it was extremely rare for a child to be put into care just because of their weight. "Even then the care proceedings may well have been instigated because of related problems rather than exclusively because of their weight," she said. Extreme cases of obesity could become a child protection issue because obesity "can have very serious consequences for a child's health and the parental behaviour that leads to childhood obesity can be a form of neglect".

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: "Children who are dangerously overweight should be brought into hospital, where they can be given 24-hour care for several weeks or months. But their parents should have access to them."

The Conservative Party said that taking children into care was a serious step. Andrew Landsley, the Shadow Health Secretary, said that in many cases "it would be better to help the parents provide better nutrition for their child rather than break up the family".


Why seizing fat kids would solve nothing

A recent Department of Health study showed that one schoolchild in three is either overweight or clinically obese - and they were the ones who agreed to be weighed. A fifth of the children opted out of their appointment with the scales. I'm willing to bet that an even higher proportion of them would have been wearing clothes labelled "XXL".

I usually meet at least one fat child a day in my surgery and I can guarantee that they will have been brought along to talk about a cough, a verruca, anything apart from their weight. More often than not the accompanying parent is also markedly overweight.

We learn how to cope with stress on our mother's knees. It would seem that these children have learnt how to comfort eat from one parent or both. I know that these children will grow up to suffer heart problems, premature arthritis and early-onset diabetes as a direct result of their obesity. I also know that if I comment on it their parent will go on the defensive. They usually make light of it, asking why I am making a big deal about a couple of inches of puppy fat.

Some experts argue that these children will do better if they are removed from the parental home. They need to consider two issues. First, the child may have developed the comfort-eating habit as a way of coping with stress, so being moved to another family will not undo that. Secondly, removal from the family is the most stressful event that could happen in a young child's life and could well lead to even more overeating.

It is easy to talk about "tough love" and locks on the fridge door but the only way to get to the root of the problem is to deal with the family as a whole.


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