The 2- part Channel 4 documentary, 'Junk Food Kids: Who's To Blame' crudely exposed the dangers of tooth decay, gum disease, increasing weight gain & children & their (irresponsible) parents turning to gastric band surgery, as a result of poor diets and lack of exercise. Some would say in certain cases, this is also linked to the parents' social economic deprivation and poverty. It is assumed that if you don't have a lot of money, you feel as though you can afford and live on pizzas, chips, fries, burgers, biscuits etc alone. Because of price and affordability. That however, shouldn't be the case. Anyone and everyone can access fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, white meat. Price is NOT a hindrance, nor an excuse for not eating healthily.
It is all a matter of priority, personal responsibility and not out of financial burden.
Besides, fast food meals and eating out in restaurants, as well as take- outs in general, are expensive. It costs more money to order and spend money on Chinese and Indian food, rather than to buy ingredients from a supermarket to make a curry or fried noodle dish in just a week.
Gastric band surgery is not cheap - it's expensive and in most cases, it's usually paid for by taxpayers. I don't think children should undergo this procedure, as there are potential risks and complications that can arise out of it. The sense of outrage and despair towards the parents, was felt throughout on social media by people shocked at the huge extent of the problem.
Most of the criticism and blame was reserved towards the parents, whose ignorance and lack of accountability was shocking throughout. Although the food manufacturers didn't escape public condemnation either. Some thought they should be held accountable for selling & targeting junk food ads towards children. Which I disagreed with.
Obesity, a health epidemic that is easily preventable and avoidable, costs the NHS around £38 million every year in Britain.
Being given the accolade of the most unhealthiest nation in Europe, is nothing to shout about, nor to be proud of. And neither is the hypocrisy in calling Americans fat when we have the same problem here in the UK.
After seeing both parts of the documentary, I figured I would come up with ways in shedding the excessive junk food consumption. Here is my 10 step plan in combating and tackling this issue:
1. Moderation is key - I am not for getting rid of junk food entirely. Junk food shouldn't be treated as a necessity, rather it should be treated as a convenience. Less sugar and fatty foods is always manageable. Limit sodas and fizzy drinks.
2. Tax junk food - this goes 2 ways: 1) people will eat it less often, or not eating it at all, 2) if you want it, you'd have to pay more for it. if this happens, then fruit and veg, nuts, fish and seafood needs to be much more cheaper and available in fishmongers, markets.
3. More exercise - walking, doing more P.E, playing football, dancing burns calories, so therefore the more you do it, the more weight you trim off
4. Free culinary and cooking classes nationwide - people need to learn to cook and learn how to cook certain dishes. Cooking is a skill everyone has to have. It needs to be in schools, as well as in clubs, communities, churches, colleges. There should be nationwide cooking centres throughout the UK, where people of all ages can turn up in person, learn to cook with ingredients with assistance from trained chefs or culinary teachers & eat them on the premises, or for them to take home to consume.
Source: 102 Cookery School
5. Budgeting and knowing where to buy healthy food whilst working on a tight budget - decide how much you want to spend a week or a month on food, make a list and include fruit, veg, nuts, fish. Have a variation of foods from different food groups, don't just limit it to just one. Visit fruit and veg stalls, fish and seafood markets, not just supermarkets. And stock up on carbohydrates in pasta, rice, pulses, lentils, beans, dried Chinese noodles. & less instant noodles.
6. Positive reinforcement and encouragement from parents - parents need to take responsibility for the state of their child's health, but they also need to be actively encouraging and supporting them. Though the onus on losing weight is on the child themselves, if the parents give their children the right meals and foods to eat, as well as praise them for their efforts, it goes a long way in helping their kids live healthier and happier lives .
7. Parents need to lead by positive example - young children are easily impressionable and can imitate the actions of their elders. Therefore, if the kids see their parents eat healthy meals, the more likely they will follow suit.
8. The kids need to spend time with their parents/adults in the kitchen when preparing food - if kids help out in the kitchen and see their mother or father, or both of them cooking and preparing food, then they would be encouraged to take an interest in food. Food isn't just about eating - it's understanding the different types of foods out there, the different cuisines, being open-minded and aware of the effort that has been put in to create it in the first place. That it is not about sticking in and heating up a pre-packaged ready meal in a microwave. This is not cooking.
9. Watch more TV cookery shows - other than just salivating over how good - or disgusting the dishes may look and taste, just seeing how it is prepared and cooked by the chefs is a good way of understanding the importance of cooking. And when cooking, it is not by cooking chips, fries, fry-ups etc but healthy and good food that is nutritious, tasty & flavoursome. Also read recipe books, recipes online, jot down the ingredients and cooking directions or bookmark them for future reference.
10. Having an appreciation towards food and food culture - and its external links towards social and cultural factors. Food is connected to family, ancestral roots, community, religion, race, nationality, history, the past, present, future and cultural identity amongst other things. This needs to be acknowledged more often.