Monday, 22 January 2007

Teenage Warning

As a responsible father of a two year old, anybody out there with any interest in their child's well-being will know how much of a challenge it is when it comes to preparing the evening dinner. It is a true challenge, especially when you know they are reaching that age where they could swing one way or the other. Good food or bad food. Does that destiny sit with the parents? In my opinion it does. It is our responsibility to encourage and cajole, to keep the choice varied and exciting enough to retain your little one's interest. It is a subject very close to my heart and I'm chuffed to say, so far so good. Cerys loves her tucker and despite a few incidents of plates on floors, most of the time she wolfs it down with gusto.

The U.K. is now officially the most obese nation in Europe. We have the worst cases of constipation, bowel and colon cancer. And we eat the most takeaways, crisps and chocolates. Why? Small island mentality? I have thought about it a lot and I really cannot put my hand on why we are speeding dramatically towards a serious problem. It is a true epidemic and only recently, what with Jamie Oliver and his healthy school dinner campaign, are the government realising what an issue they have on their hands and doing something about it. Here in the North East, huge leaps have been made to try and stop the rot, beginning with the Primary Schools. Last year all 238 Primary schools in County Durham were forced to improve their school meals with drastically lower fat, sugar and salt in their content. Only time will tell if these kind of measures will have a long term improvement, but it will take a lot more than this for the message to really get home.

I myself have been speaking to and hoping to get involved with a pioneering roadshow called Expochef (www.expochef.org), the brainchild of Mark Earnden, a man with incredible vision, passion, belief and energy in the subject of healthy eating. What Mark is trying to communicate through his roadshows around the North East is pretty simple - that food can be affordable, can be easy to cook and can be healthy as well as tasty. Philosophies that the French, Spanish, Italians etc have never had issues with. The very fact that we are at a stage in the U.K. where people like Mark are required to get the message home is scary, and I applaud anybody that is sitting up and tackling this major issue. Check out his webpage and be inspired. Expochef could and should be in your area soon no matter where you are in the country, for it is these kind of passionate and ambitious people that are needed if we are going to get ourselves out of this horrendous situation.

"Its a teenage warning, but nobodies listening', sang our very own Angelic Upstarts in a bout of anger back in the late 70s. I very much doubt they were singing about the obesity time-bomb in the U.K., but Expochef and the Government alike have an enormous challenge on their hands convincing this fast-food obsessed nation the key areas of healthy eating. As a parent who does not need any convincing, I urge any other parent out there who may be reading this to take a lot more interest into what goes into your child's mouth on a daily basis. It really is a matter of life or death and no matter how improved school dinners may be, no matter how much more media focus may be on the obesity epidemic, the path to good or bad food habits starts and ends with YOU the parent. Stay tuned this week for some easy and healthy recipes that you and your kiddies can enjoy together.

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