PARENTS who take their children to fast food outlets have been accused of a “form of a child abuse” in the wake of shocking obesity figures for South Holland.
Chris Brewis, a Lincolnshire county and South Holland district councillor for Sutton Bridge, made the harsh criticism, saying some young people are being condemned to years of ill-health by irresponsible adults who fail to instil healthy eating habits in their offspring.
Coun Brewis said it is time to send out more “blatant and direct” messages that parents are putting their children at risk with regular visits to fast food restaurants and unhealthy takeaways at home, rather than the gentle persuasion which has been attempted so far with limited success.
His words are borne out by latest figures, which show that almost a quarter of 11-year-olds and one in ten four-year-olds in South Holland are obese – as reported in last Tuesday’s Lincolnshire Free Press.
Coun Brewis said: “It’s a huge problem, it’s desperately serious and we need to wean people off the food that is causing problems.
“It’s a mixture of lifestyle and food and gentle persuasion doesn’t seem to be working.
“We know the dangers that obesity brings, such as an increased likelihood of suffering from diabetes and a shorter life expectancy, but the message we have got to put across needs to be more blatant – that parents are damaging their children’s chance of a long and healthy life.
“It is a form of child abuse in my opinion and I hope by saying that it highlights how serious this problem is.”
Coun Brewis says the effects of a poor diet affect all aspects of a child’s life, from health to education, and fears today’s obesity problem is storing up serious problems as health services struggle to cope with the resulting diabetes “epidemic”, which already swallows up a large portion of its spending.
He added: “The change has got to start with parents. We need to pull them up and say, ‘hey, hold on – children are what they eat and if you want them to grow up healthy you need to start now’.”
l Fast food giant McDonald’s declined to comment on Coun Brewis’ views.