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Why are so many kids in Scotland obese and overweight?

Jojo Fraser talks why kids are overweight in Scotland

I was asked by the BBC this morning why I think so many kids in Scotland are obese and overweight. There is a whole chapter in my book about our relationship with food and why we do what we do. There are also a few chapters that touch on changing our mindset when it comes to exercise and moving our bodies.

As a kid, I was always active. Yes, I played my sonic the hedgehog computer games, yes, I would sit for hours and write in my room. But I also loved my skateboard (a hand me down from my brother which had rubber wheels and was SO fast). I also walked loads, went cycling, swimming, dancing and playing on my swing and slide. I loved climbing Arthurs Seat. My parents didn’t have much money when we were younger and my Mum stopped teaching for over 20 years so she could be at home with my brothers and I. I find this really interesting as I was trolled a couple of years ago for promoting healthy cooking. Apparently, it was patronising to people who don’t have much money, and my response was that a bag of kale can be as little as 50p. I think making things from scratch is cheaper, the issue is time. My Mum always made pots of soup, homemade casseroles and quiches and we did have pudding but not every night. They didn’t buy lots of biscuits as they were expensive so a double choc penguin or mint, dark choc club were very limited. I remember toffee fudge gino ginelli was my happy place on a Sunday afternoon or of course viennetta cake.

I often moan at Hubs for buying too many packs of biscuits and crisps, I would prefer to keep these for special occasions.  Currently both of our kids are a healthy weight, but I am fully aware that this is a huge problem across Scotland and I know how easy it is to become an unhealthy weight. After kids, I have found that my weight can fluctuate like the stock market. The key is routine and consistency with meals and exercise. When I stick with that, I feel good in my clothes. But at the same time, I am all for enjoying holidays and having a 2nd portion on special occasions if it is amazing.

We know that they key is balance, but there is so much pressure these days. Bonnie gets sucked in by the McDonalds chicken burger signs and tells me she ‘craves them’. If I am in Marks and they spot a chocolate character lolly then I am screwed. I am working harder to eat and cook more vegetables.  I confessed on the Kaye Adams show recently to being a flexitarian and last night I had a proud moment.  I came downstairs to find Bonnie chopping up an orange pepper and some tomatos to have with some hummus for her supper.  That put a huge smile on my face as a few weeks ago she continued to ask for ‘oaty biscuits’, which are full of sugar and certainly not what I would like her to enjoy before trying to get her to sleep.

This morning @thestevenjmiller said that parents have got lazy. I would say that parents have got busy. Much busier and therefore it is easy to crumble when kids are begging for the quick convenience food. Mindful cooking is a great thing for our mental and physical health, as is mindful eating, but some days it feels impossible to practise it. I liked his suggestions about supermarkets creating more awareness as to how we can eat healthy and shop cost effectively.  As for reducing portion size the majority of the week, I think this is a very personal thing. I love to see my kids enjoying food, if they have enjoyed their meal then they are always welcome to more if there is some. Would I feel the same if the GP told me they are overweight? I suspect I may make more effort to cook less or to put some away in the fridge for the following day. But I would never ever encourage them to diet. I want them to enjoy food always and to find forms of movement they enjoy too. I think dancing is our current favourite and it’s free. Get rocking around that Christmas tree folks.  How low can you go? Great for that butt and those legs.


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