In the last edition of my blog I talked about the causes of obesity for example physical inactivity and the shift in the Irish diet from traditional foods like potatoes and vegetables to exotic diets that full of fat, oil and saturated fats like Chinese and Mexican diets. I also discussed how the rise of fast food franchises has contributed to the rise in obesity rates.
In this edition I want to discuss what I think are the potential solutions to tackle this problem. As always I encourage the readers to join in on the debate. In my opinion there are several possible solutions and there is no one size fits all solution, we have to tailor it to the audience and also take a multi-pronged approach to solve this problem once and for all. In my opinion we have to battle this issue on several fronts by mixing education, physical activity, and also eating better.
One solution to this problem is regulating school dinners. In my former secondary school most of the options in the canteen were not healthy. A child could buy foods that were full of fat and grease like chips, bacon, sausages, burgers etc… In my opinion these foods have absolutely no right to be in a school canteen. Instead I feel that the school should be setting an example to the students by providing them with healthy foods like salads, pastas and chicken. I think that because these unhealthy foods are provided by the schools the children can sometimes get it into their heads that these foods are good for you and may get the wrong impression.
I also think that there should be a limit to the size of fizzy drink bottles. In New York they introduced a bottle size limit to help combat the growing rates of obesity in America and I feel that this approach should be introduced here with a limit of one litre bottles. Fizzy drinks like coke and Pepsi are full of sugar and are extremely unhealthy, people don’t realise how much sugar is in a standard bottle of coke. Everywhere you go you see young children gulping down litres and litres of coke like it was going out of fashion, I think this is one of the main reasons why obesity rates are on the rise. I feel that the fizzy drinks industry should be better regulated and also there should be some sort of tax break for bottled water companies to make bottled water cheaper and a more attractive option for parents who are buying their child a treat because in my opinion flavoured water is just as good as fizzy drinks but they tend to be more expensive.
I feel though that the best solution to the growing obesity rates is by introducing an hour of physical education a day in schools. As it stands children are only getting an hour a week, this is simply not enough. Children are recommended to get an hour of activity a day and in my opinion this should be provided by the school to ensure that all children are getting their recommended amount. In most American states children are allocated an hour of gym class a day five days a week. I feel that the Irish government should introduce a similar strategy here if they are serious about dealing with the growing obesity rates in children.
These are just some of the approaches I think that can be implemented but it can’t all be left to the schools and government to sort out this problem, parents have got to take a lot of the responsibility too. There are lots that parents can do to help also like buying healthy cereals instead of buying cereals that are full of sugar, they can also encourage their children to engage in sport, and by also only buying their children sweets as a treat once a week and not every day.
In next week’s edition I am going to discuss who is to blame for this epidemic.