I say no to my children a lot. I buy petrol, I say no. I’m grocery shopping and I have to say no. I bring them to the barber and I say no. We’re waiting to collect someone from swimming and I have to say no to sweets, jellies, ice cream, crisps. It’s wearing, frustrating and stressful.
Always having to say no to my children because food companies put profit before health. Always having to say no to my children because food companies and manufacturers have managed to infiltrate every aspect of our lives with high fat, high sugar, high salt foods in the pursuit of money.
Always having to say no because the Government are not doing their job of protecting our children.
I attended the launch of the Irish Heart Foundation’s “A Childhood Obesity Manifesto” recently. They talked about the obesogenic environment we live in - that environment all around us that causes us to be obese.
“We are living in a toxic environment that restricts physical activity and makes overconsumption of unhealthy food and therefore high obesity rates inevitable.” Irish Heart Foundation Nov 2019
So when I go to a petrol station, I have to weave my way through a corridor of junk food. When I bring my kids to the barbers, they get offered lollipops and mints. At after school activities and sometimes at school, the kids get sweets.
I’m not even talking about events associated with “treats” like parties and Christmas and Easter. I’m only talking about the every day. The every day where our children are mired in a swamp of endless cheap treats, exciting, fun, marketing of said same treats and limited exercise opportunities.
I’m kinda tired of saying no. Of fighting the everyday battle with my kids. But I will keep at it because that is my role as a parent and I take my personal responsibility seriously, but wouldn’t it be so much easier if I could go the barbers without saying no to the lollipops, bring my kids swimming without the expectation of a treat, available at the counter, buy my petrol without negotiating a path through junk food?
So yes, I will take my responsibilities seriously but so too must the Government, food manufacturers, supermarkets, petrol stations, shops, restaurants and the community at large so we can put the brakes on what the Irish Heart Foundation call ;
"The greatest single threat to the health and wellbeing of our children”.