Parents are fighting a losing battle against childhood obesity in Australia and it’s not surprising considering the number of junk food ads kids are exposed to each hour on TV – three every 60 minutes according to a report published in the Journal of Public Health.
And that’s not even including product placements in movies, ads on YouTube and billboards.
The overwhelming food message being fed to our kids being:
Junk food is fun! Look how happy we are eating it? You could be this happy too. EAT ME!
It’s like snake-charming our kids into wanting it, while parents sigh another utterly exhausted sigh at the prospect of yet another “food” product we have to try to keep away from our kids.
What has become blatantly obvious is that the government’s voluntary guidelines that junk food advertisers please stop advertising during children’s TV viewing hours are completely ineffective. Introduced in 2009, eight years later nearly half of all food ads during kid’s viewing hours on TV are for unhealthy foods, and one in four are for fast food.
Still want to blame parents for childhood obesity?
Peter Gleeson, Editor of the Sunday Mail feels it's time to cut back on junk food advertising targeted at kids. He told Karl Stefanovic on Today the frequency of ads is "crazy". "The amount of fast food ads during Peppa Pig is insane," he said.
Gleeson said we need to focus on educating our kids about healthy eating; "We need to educate our kids around nutrition and the amount of junk food ads out there is crazy."
But by "we" he obviously doesn't mean parents alone, because blaming parents isn't working with one in five Aussie kids now clocking in as overweight or obese, according to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
I have three children, two of whom are thin and one of whom is overweight. A visit to the doctor's office confirmed that and we were instructed to make an appointment with the in-house dietitian to discuss healthy eating (dieting) and making good choices (counting calories).
I never kept that appointment.
For me, having an overweight child isn't my primary concern and to be honest, is too hard to fight on my own.
Instead I have decided my primary concern needs to be raising a happy and as-healthy-as-possible child. He's as healthy as I can make him in the cheap-junk-food-saturated world in which we live.
The last thing I'm going to do to him, his fragile body image and his easily influenced relationship with food, is introduce the concept of dieting, counting calories or labelling foods "good" and "bad".
And I will NEVER praise my child for losing weight or scold them for gaining weight because I know what food shame and fat shame did to me.
There are so many other problems we need to address first, before we rant at parents who are doing their best.
Why is healthy food so expensive?
Why is junk food so cheap?
And why is junk food EVERYWHERE?
Ridiculous things we believed as kids. Article continues...
And for the record, I don't feel being overweight is that much of an issue at all as long as overall health is good. My husband is technically overweight but regular trips to the doctor confirm he is in good health, probably owing to the fact he loves to exercise each day. My son who is overweight is otherwise in good health.
If someone is healthy and happy, children and adults included, who cares what they weigh? What's the big deal?
I've never met one parent who wants an unhealthy child but I've met many parents who are exhausted at how often they have to enter into food fights with their kids, just due to the saturation they face from every angle when it comes to less healthy foods. I think of us as flailing ninja-types, deflecting junk food and mixed messages being flung in the direction of our kids every single day.
TGM: Holly Wainwright let a child eat as much sugar as they liked.