Healthy eating policy

Globally there are more than 1 billion overweight people and at least 300 million of them are obese, and because I wanted to focus on Britain rather than America I also found out that one in five 11-12 year olds in Scotland are obese. Scientists blame it on an increased consumption of high-energy foods and reduced physical activity. But I think that there is more to it than that. We have taken too long to tackle this problem as a country, and are now only starting to realise that the problem does come from the home, but school plays a major part in the obesity problem. Healthy eating and physical activity are being encouraged as much as possible in my school.

Every pupil from 1st to 2nd year has at least two periods of physical education a week, so the sport and exercise is there. The head of the physical education department in my school told me that he feels that most people realise that they will benefit from a healthy lifestyle. However nowadays with everyone being here and there and Mum and Dad mostly working it is very hard for children to fit an hour of exercise into their daily routines.

Unlike in the past, people now eat what we call “convenience foods” these mostly have a high fat and salt content contributing to the child obesity problem, and a main reason that these foods are so popular is that nowadays we have the money to spend on these meals and in the past we didn’t. Maybe the recent credit crunch will reduce the money we get in our hands dramatically and mean that it will tackle all sorts of problems in the world including child obesity.

But it is the eating that I personally worry about. Our cafeteria sells a lot of healthy food and almost everything on the menu is healthy. However something I didn’t know which I found out from the head of my school cafeteria was that all the ingredients used in school meals are approved by the Scottish Executive before being used in school dinners which makes me feel that the government is also worried about what’s going into these meals, but we have other options for lunch. There are many local shops surrounding the school, which do not comply with what the school’s rules are for eating.

When I interviewed my Head Teacher, he talked about how he would like to see the council bringing in rules forbidding the surrounding shops to sell food which doesn’t comply with the school’s healthy eating policy, certainly, the shops would lose a lot of business but at the end of the day it should be the children that they are caring about.

When I asked my grandma what she thought of child obesity the first thing she said to me was, “Oh in my day you wouldn’t have caught a fat child walking down my street”. This is definitely true, and the reason for this could be, the family was much closer knit in those days meaning that you did most things as a family. If I was always eating at home I would be a lot healthier because my mum is always giving me my five fruit and vegetables a day and because in the past they didn’t let their children have such a big boundary for life they were always kept a close eye on.

Nowadays with even ten year olds being allowed to roam about town eating what they want parents can’t keep such a close eye on their children. Also children in the past were always running around and playing energetic games outside in the fresh air. We are in such a technological world now with play stations and x-boxes as much as you see the younger generation out in the streets still playing, and having fun, as far as I can remember when I turned about 8 or 9 it wasn’t cool to play in the street anymore.

The main age worry is teenagers from 13 until you become an adult when you are very vulnerable, just wanting to go out and have fun, rather than care about your figure. I thought about myself when I was thinking of this age category. I watch what I eat to a certain extent but still treat myself when I want to, but I also do at least an hour and a half of exercise a day, which enables me to eat what I want.

Jo Swinson my local MP suggests that we need more leisure facilities in East Dunbartonshire, and even though there has just been a new leisure centre built it is not of the standard for teenagers but more for adults. Also she feels as a nation if we are going to tackle child obesity then we are going to need to put the prices up for these junk food items so that then hopefully no one will buy them, for example the price of a chocolate bar from 50p to 1.50. I feel that it will influence people to stop eating those little pieces of heaven eventually, but it will take a lot of getting used to for some people.

Celebrities and the media can also influence obesity in different ways, the media tries to show you how perfect all celebrities really are and then makes the public feel as if they aren’t as perfect as celebrities, when really the title of celebrity is merely a title! I feel that if someone sees these perfectly thin people, they will comfort eat to make them feel better and this definitely won’t help the child obesity problem in Britain.

A lot of my research told me that the treatment for obesity was simple, eat healthily – five fruit and vegetables a day would be a start, and exercise daily – an hour a day for children. But I don’t think that it’s as easy to say that. I think that child obesity is a mental and physical cause, and that one of the main causes is the home and the parents of the child. This possibly can’t be solved if very serious but with the right professional psychological and fitness help I feel then someone’s daily routine could be drastically changed. The really worrying thing is that we are now being compared as a country to America, which in my opinion started the whole obesity ideas with fast food and junk food! But there is always going to be a way to stop it and at the end of the day no matter how young the individual is it is down to them, their family and their lifestyle to be able to avoid becoming obese.

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