Ordering schools to sell only foods that are deemed to be healthy are a band-aid solution and will not tackle the main contributing factor to obesity, according to Family First National Director Bob McCoskrie.
“Research demonstrates that parents are still the gatekeepers of the family food supply and that parents act as important role models for children’s eating behaviours,” says Mr McCoskrie. “We must understand that parental attitudes and actions are a key contributor to the obesity epidemic in NZ.”
There are plenty of claims as to the contributing factors to obesity, including research blaming breast feeding mothers, watching too much tv, staying up late, working mothers, city planning, and an increase in the dependence of vehicles to travel everywhere.
“But one of the major problem for families is that healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables are outside many families’ budgets, and the cheap pies, fizzy drinks, big packets of chips and instant meals are a cheap and easy alternative. But they’re not the healthy option.”
“The ultimate way to promote healthy eating (and exercise and sleep patterns) is via parents. If parents believe in the benefits of healthy food, and are prepared to overcome factors such as cost, time in preparation, pressure from children, and lack of convenience, we will start to see progress,” says Mr McCoskrie.
“Schools can help by providing healthy alternatives, but what children can’t get at school, they will simply buy down the road at the local dairy or bakery, or eat outside of school hours and at home.”
“It is time we tackle the serious issue of our obesity epidemic by working with families – rather than expecting schools to pick up yet another parenting responsibility.”
“Parental authority, and example, will be the best place to start towards a solution.”