Saturday 25 November 2017

'Irish mammy' warning as adult-sized portions fuel childhood obesity

Brendan O’Carroll in ‘All Round to Mrs Brown’s’. Photo: Graeme Hunter
Brendan O’Carroll in ‘All Round to Mrs Brown’s’. Photo: Graeme Hunter

Gavin White

Parents are not aware that giving their children bigger portions is "leading to higher obesity", a top dietician has warned.

New figures show that over half of parents are serving their children the same portions they are giving themselves - or even more.

"Parents were giving their children more than they would themselves," said Dr Mary McCreery, a dietician with Blackrock Clinic.

She said parents should give young children at least a third less than what they would serve themselves.

Dr McCreery said parents needed to get away from the "idea of the Irish mammy" by serving meals that are too big.


Only 58pc of parents get their children involved in cooking - something Dr McCreery thinks mums and dads should tackle.

"Even though parents are reading the literature from schools on food we should encourage children to engage in the cooking process too," she said.

The report, Home Truths, released by supermarket SuperValu also revealed that nine out of ten adults felt they should change their diet based on the new food pyramid launched by the Department of Health last December.

Only half of consumers are aware of the pyramid and just 10pc have a "detailed understanding" of it, according to the report.

SuperValu managing director Martin Kelleher said the new food pyramid gave people "pause for thought".

"It's an opportunity to reassess the changes needed in everyone's diet, and their children's - to ensure they have a balanced, healthy diet," he said.

"Getting children involved in cooking and being mindful of their portion sizes will help demystify the pyramid and make it something everyone in the family can get behind, by setting personal targets and goals."

The amount of takeaway food eaten by adults and children rose by 5pc from last year.

"You can see, especially in lower socio-economic areas, people still have takeaways regularly and I was talking to dieticians recently who said you can tell if a child will have obesity issues by the age of three," Dr McCreery said.

"The new food pyramid gives everyone an opportunity to see what elements of their diet need to change, to ensure that they are getting the right balance of all nutrients, in the right proportion and size, for optimum physical and mental health."

The report revealed the Sunday roast was rising in popularity, with people eating it 3pc more than last year.

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