United Kingdom Versus Commercial Enablers

Dr. Pretlow says,

Overeating/obesity in kids is enabled by parents, society, schools, the health profession, and of course the food industry.

In the United Kingdom, many worried people want to do something to curb the power of the food and drink industries, whose ability to bend young minds is legendary. A lot of cities have a lot of too-hefty kids, and Birmingham is near the top of the list. Among 11-year-olds, one out of four is overweight.

One result has been a reassessment of policy that led to a conclusion viewed by some as heresy. The assistant director of public health, Dr. Dennis Wilkes, explained that family-oriented intervention programs don’t seem to have much effect. The officials of Birmingham want to shift emphasis from them, to the curbing of toxic commercialism. They want to gain the cooperation of retailers and fast food outlets in promoting healthier options. Dr. Wilkes says,

The future direction should be more about changing the environmental and social influences in order to make the ‘healthy choice the easy choice’.

An area that seems underdeveloped is the willingness of merchants to honor healthy start vouchers, which give a family a certain amount per week for each child, meant to be spent on milk, fruit, and vegetables. The vouchers, for some reason, are said to be “underused,” which is puzzling because the children concerned in this knowledge-gathering effort are mostly from economically deprived families.

Goodbye to the “meal deal”?

Over there, they have notoriously high-calorie snacks called chocolate fingers, and according to researchers, certain fast-food “meal deals” contain the same caloric load as 79 of them. If a person did this every day, it would add up to around a pound of sugar per week — way too much. Journalist Pete Gavan found that…

[…] certain food and drink combinations contain a staggering 30 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than four times an adult’s daily maximum intake of ‘free’ sugars (30g/7 tsp) in just a single lunch. Some drinks alone contain up to 70g of sugar and are frequently offered in 500ml portions, which equates to two servings, despite being sold as part of a lunch meal.

A person can’t help asking, what is it with humans? Willing to eat any old debris, as long as there is plenty of it and the price is right. Sure, most of the world’s people have little to no choice about what they eat and drink. So, how insane is humanity, when people with the means and mobility to do it, simply refuse to make better choices? Well, says Gavan, for one thing…

Although low sugar meal deal options are available with some combinations containing less than one teaspoon of sugar, the majority of retailers are not promoting healthy choices to consumers…

As for the consumers, Professor Graham MacGregor says of the discount lunch,

It may seem like it’s a good deal for our wallets, but some meal deal choices are a bad deal for our health.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Birmingham facing rising childhood obesity epidemic,” BirminghamMail.co.uk, 07/13/18
Source: “Having a meal deal? It could be the same as eating 79 chocolate fingers..,” Portsmouth.co.uk, 10/31/17
Photo credit: Matty Ring on Visualhunt/CC BY

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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