Opinion

Friday 20 April 2018

Dr Ciara Kelly: Irish parents, we're kidding ourselves when we say 'all they'll eat is chips or nuggets'

Dr Ciara Kelly. Photo: David Conachy
Dr Ciara Kelly. Photo: David Conachy
Healthy eating starts young

Ciara Kelly

I've been thinking about kids. I have four of them so, in fairness, I think about them a lot. But I've been thinking of kids in general and particularly in relation to food. Felicity Moroney, one of our five new leaders on Operation Transformation, mentioned how her parents owned a bakery shop when she was young and so she grew up surrounded by cream cakes and buns and eclairs and all manner of goodies that she loved to eat. And, unsurprisingly, she put on weight from eating them - so as a child she became overweight. And she continued those same eating habits into her adolescence and adulthood, where she continues to battle her weight now.

She can trace a line directly backwards from now to that time when she developed her 'sweet tooth' and when her weight problems began. And she's not alone. We know that kids who are overweight have a 70pc increased chance of being overweight or obese as adults, so basically if your kids are too heavy, you are stacking the odds against them ever being a healthy weight for the rest of their lives.

It's easy to trace that line backwards - but how many of us trace it forwards? How many of us, when we give our kids sugary, fatty food as a treat, or when we go out for a nice family meal where we eat roast chicken but order them chicken nuggets, or when we say "Oh, all he'll eat is plain pasta with butter" or "All she'll eat is chips with ketchup", think to ourselves that that's what she/he'll eat for the rest of their lives? Not many, I suspect.

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