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Sunday, September 16, 2007

Will banning TV advertising to children really fix obesity?

Working with overweight kids for 7 years has taught me that there is not one simple thing that makes kids fat. Fat kids do not eat Macca's every day, nor do they eat a particular type of food that makes them fat. Kids get fat because they do not burn enough energy and, like many adults, eat too much for the amount of energy they burn.

So, while banning food advertising to children does seem to be a powerful response; one that successfully raises the emotions of the health professionals involved in the lobbying to something rivalling that of saving the starving children in Africa and definitely one that removes the notion that food companies are taking advantage of our precious darlings by exposing them to the wicked Ronald McDonald and the Paddle Pop Lion; I am not convinced it is the answer.

If we just get kids more active in their daily lives; more active at home, more active at school, not only will they watch lessTV anyway and hence reduce their exposure to television advertising but they will also need to worry far less about what they are eating.

So, rather than starting another health crusade which focuses on the negatives of food companies, perhaps looking at the positives in terms of what parents and kids CAN do to help prevent and manage obesity will be a WIN/WIN situation for all.

The truth is that TV advertising to children has been banned for some time in some Scandinavian countries but alas, despite this, there as been no changes in childhood obesity prevelance in these countries. So, I am not convined that shielding the kids eyes from all things fun and yummy with protect them from obesity at all, but going for a regular walk may well do, and that, is proven to work.