4 Out Of 5 Children NOT Active Enough As We Risk Becoming The Fattest Country In Europe
A brand new food pyramid and PE as a Leaving Cert subject – these are just a few of the Government's plans to stop Ireland becoming the fattest country in Europe.
The launch today comes as Irish doctors warn that children as young as two years old are being treated at weight clinics, and 60 per cent of children are NOT getting enough exercise each day. Children under five years old should be getting THREE hours a day of vigorous exercise. This can be split into ten or twenty-minute blocks. Children OVER five should have an hour of "sweaty" exercise.
This week we sat down with the director of the childhood obesity programme at Temple Street Children's Hospital, Grace O 'Malley. Its called the W82go programme. She says it's up to us parents to lead by example.
"Most parents forget that their children will copy them rather than just listen to them. If their parents are not active, they won't be either. It's important parents don't skip breakfast and have regular meals. Portion sizes are one example where parents can make a difference. Remember, they are growing children and don't need adult portions."
The W82GO Programme treats hundreds of children each year to help control and maintain a healthy weight. A team of doctors, physiotherapists, dietitians and psychologists participate in the family-orientated initiative which aims to reduce BMI (Body Mass Index). Organisers of the plan say the main problems is children not doing enough exercise and parents giving their children too many calories. The Government also plans to introduce a sugar tax on fizzy drinks. It will not be enforced until 2018. Grace O'Malley says sugary drinks are one of the main culprits they see time and time again at the clinic;
"Sugary drinks are being sold as 'foods', but they are just water and sugar mixed that is made to taste good. It's a hard habit to break, especially when parents perceive them as drinks. Only offering your children water and milk is the first step we recommend taking. Also, watch out for certain cereal bars and juices. Some of those things may seem healthy, but it's only by looking at the label that you can be sure."
Our food pyramid is also getting an overhaul. The last one, made in 2010, was divided into six different shelves and put carbohydrates at the base. This meant it was a good group we could eat the most of. Despite being a good source of nutrients and fiber, the new guide will now replace this highest group with fruit and vegetables instead. It's all part of the major drive to stop Ireland becoming the fattest country in Europe. The Independent reports that this 'Operation Transformation'-style plan hopes to see at least a five per cent reduction in our average weight in the next ten years.
Do you have trouble knowing what is 'healthy' and what is not? Let us know if you think this issue affects your child.