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Kennedy's Bakery Production Magazine | June 25, 2019

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30% of UK school kids now overweight or obese

30% of UK school kids now overweight or obese

According to California Raisins, this month its claimed the BBC reported that there are record numbers of overweight and obese children in the UK. 30% of school-age children between five and nineteen are overweight or obese according to figures from the 2016/17 National Child Measurement Programme (NCMP).

Whilst government supported programmes, such as Change4Life, have detailed information about how to tell if your child is overweight – many parents still struggle to know when their child’s weight is a problem or not. We simply aren’t detecting our children gaining weight early enough or addressing it quickly enough.

Part of the solution is healthier eating.  Sounds simple, but the NCMP findings highlight that if healthy eating habits are established early enough, whilst children are still young, these eating habits persist right through to when they leave school. Could this news help to break the habit of those rebellious teenagers eating nothing but mostly ‘beige’ foods such as, breads, crackers, granola bars, pasta and bananas? Coupled with living in an ‘obesogenic environment’, with food now having a bigger impact on obesity than the person’s physical exercise, the focus is now on healthy eating habits at a young age.

So, as the summer holidays draw to a close and the dawn of a new school year approaches, why not commit to a new resolution for this school term and get the kids eating more fruit and vegetables. You may be thinking it cannot possibly be that simple, but it really is.

One of the main nutritional challenges that upsets children’s nutrition is added sugar and as Change4Life has shown – many of the lunch box staples can be high in added sugar.

According to the latest  National Diet and Nutrition Survey school age children are mostly consuming a lot of added sugar from fizzy and soft drinks (33%), confectionery (21%) and even sugary breakfast cereals (29%) and up to 12% from juices

So those ‘healthy’ yoghurts, cereal bars and juices can easily fool the unsuspecting parent. There are other natural staples like California Raisins, a traditional dried fruit with no added sugar, but even these can be labelled a nutritional villain.

In fact I wrote about this recently in Have we got our perception of raisins and oral health all wrong?’ and part 2 from the “Dried Fruit and Public Health” workshop.

Califormia raisins say that dried fruits, alongside fresh fruits and vegetables is a good way to combat obesity. A daily 30g serving of California Raisins they claim, will provide an on-the-go snack with a good source of fibre and natural a slow release energy.