«He doesn’t eat that much either», This is one of the phrases that is repeated the most in the consultations of dietitians-nutritionists when families are asked about the eating patterns of the child who suffers excess kilos. And it is that, as reflected in the last studyAladdin of Food, Physical Activity, Child Development and Obesity of the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition (Aesan), nine out of ten parents of overweight schoolchildren and four out of ten parents of obese children consider your little one to be a normal size. The 2019 report reflects that 23.3% of schoolchildren aged 6 to 9 present overweight and 17.3% obesity.
Food, physical activity and family environment are determining factors in this equation. For example, 60% of the schoolchildren surveyed for Aladino usually included in their breakfast cookies, a 45.2% breakfast cereals and only two out of ten had fresh fruit for the first meal of the day. “One of the main mistakes what are committed is think that as they are children nothing happens, that they will already give the stretch and that they are immune to junk food, which does not affect them and that we only do it from time to time, ”warns Paula Crespo, president of the Official College of Nutritionist Dietitians of the Valencian Community (Codinucova).
The reality is often that when parents are asked to record what their child eats for two weeks, they realize that that “once in a while” is not occasional but daily. “The day that is not a cookie is a croissant or breakfast cereal. There is a lack of awareness of what you are eating. Many people want to eat well but don’t know how due to lack of nutritional education, “adds Crespo. And here comes into play, in addition to the responsibility of citizens, food policy.
The Government has made two announcements this year in relation to the fight against obesity: its intention to increase taxes on sugary drinks and to ban advertisements for unhealthy food aimed at children under 15 years of age. In the opinion of the president of Codinucova, we must go further. “It is not enough, you have to give people tools so that when they see the product in stores they can identify that it is not healthy,” he says. And he gives as an example a program that takes place in Japan, where they include the subject of nutritional education in schools. «They reduced childhood obesity by 20% in two years. You do not have to make a large investment but have the will and legislate in that sense, “he says.
The Official College of Dietitians-Nutritionists of the Valencian Community has also denounced the increase in the last year of the price of fresh products, which is up to 10% in the case of fruit. This makes it difficult to choose healthy foods when shopping. A gap between households according to income that also reflects the Aladino study: The frequency of obesity is 23.2% among low-income families (less than 18,000 euros per year), compared to 11.9% among high-income families (more than 30,000 euros).
From the Spanish Society for the Study of Obesity (Seedo) they also consider that current campaigns to prevent childhood obesity fall short. It’s much better invest in the quality of school food and nutrition education. And lower the price of healthy things: fruits, vegetables, olive oil … because obesity has a lot of socioeconomic situation bias, “says Professor Dr. Amelia Martí del Moral, head of the Child Obesity Group at Seedo.
The good news is that it is possible to make an affordable and healthy shopping basket. «If planned it is not expensive. We lack planning. Many times you go shopping without knowing, things pile up at home and you end up throwing away a lot of food. You don’t have to go shopping hungry either, ”warns Paula Crespo. The base of the shopping basket has to be fruit, vegetables, vegetables and legumes, wholegrain versions of cereals, bread, pasta and rice; nuts, fresh meat, fish, eggs, dairy and natural fermented milk.
Avoid chronic problems: diabetes, obesity …
Obesity in childhood is not just a cosmetic issue. The extra kilos expose you to suffer when young diseases that have historically been of older people, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia … In short, pathologies that increase the risk of having a lower life expectancy. Nor is it a temporary condition, if it is not treated. “Once overweight is established in adolescence, 70% will be obese as adults,” warns Dr. Amelia Martí del Moral, who points out that behind these figures there is an abuse of sugary drinks and prepared meals, in addition to lack of exercise.
To avoid temptations it is best not having unhealthy products stored at home, understand that water is always the drink of choice and avoid offering food as a reward or punishment, explains the Seedo spokeswoman. What things should not be regularly in our pantry? Well, according to the opinion of the experts consulted by ABC Salud, we should avoid cookies, pastries, sugary cereals, sugary dairy products, industrial soft drinks and juices, bagged snacks, cold cuts and precooked products.
Another mistake many families make is that each member eats one thing. It is difficult to convince a child that he has to eat fruit or vegetables if his parents do not try it. «Children don’t have to eat differently, just less. If you reject a food first, you should not force it, but you should not stop eating it at home. It has to be in sight to motivate them to try it, ”advises Paula Crespo. Dr. Amelia Martí is of the same opinion: “No child stops taking something that they see their parents eat.” «The atmosphere in the food has to be relaxed, with the family, no screens, with fixed hours, without snacking between hours, and that the example of the parents is the best possible, “sums up the spokeswoman for Seedo.