Paediatrician Dr Su Laurent discusses the problem of childhood obesity.
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Emma Howard: Hello, I am Emma Howard and I am joined by Dr Su Laurent, who is a Consultant Paediatrician at Barnet Hospital in Hertfordshire, Hello Su. Su Laurent: Hello Emma. Emma Howard: I have a question here about a nine year-old boy who is overweight and his parents are very worried about him because he is getting bullied at school, what can may I do to control his eating? They say, they can’t control it but they want to be able to do something. They are going to have to take some kind of control on that. Su Laurent: I think it’s really important, I think this is a nine year-old boy so most of his eating is going to be at home. It’s very important to look at the whole family and what whole family’s diet is like, and to make sure that they are shopping for the right kind of foods. I am always amazed by how often parents by nice little treats to have for themselves, they say, they don’t expect their child to eat because they don’t want them to eat unhealthy things. And then they are surprised by the fact that they raid the fridge or they raid the cupboards. So the first thing is to just eliminate from the house all the things that are high in fat, all the things that they know for well are not healthy things. Emma Howard: So they’re going to have to get rid of the crisps and the biscuit. Su Laurent: Exactly because if it is the chocolate. Emma Howard: And buy more food. Su Laurent: And may be you’ll see they have once a week, you’ll have at weekends, you’ll have a treat, which is something that all the family can enjoy but it’s not going to be that the easy access all we longed. Emma Howard: Now we do know that on the way to school, children can divert into the shops. Su Laurent: They do, they do. I think for a nine year–old, you got a bit more control because most of nine year-olds is still being taken to school, will being -- and almost nine year-olds don’t get enough of their own money to keep buying things. Although I do find some children are using their bus money to spend on talk, which is quite interesting. Emma Howard: Yes because the joy to eat is big within all of us. Su Laurent: It is big within all of us. And it’s really important the parents remember, how many calories they are on, things like a can of coke. And all of those things are very, very high in calories and people just often say they only have one packet of crisps a day, they only have one fizzy drink a day, they only have one chocolate bar a day, but all these things mount up. Emma Howard: So you are really into eliminating them to start off with, I think -- Su Laurent: If you got a child with a problem, you kind of go back to basic, you go back to basics, you go back to five portions of fruit and vegetable everyday, that is so essential. You go back to drinking plenty of water or weak fruit juice. And you go back to helping the child understand healthy eating, to eat variety. I am shocked by how many children just eat junk foods. Emma Howard: So it’s kind of education for everyone, a nutrition again within the family. Su Laurent: And involving everybody in cooking and choosing. My nine year-old chooses what she is going to eat because she looks through cook books and then she helps cook. And doing that, she sort of understands where it all comes from and how to cook from scratch. Emma Howard: So getting involved? Su Laurent: Yes. Emma Howard: So thank you, good advice. If you have a similar problem, we hope we might have given you some help but remember, it’s always best to go and see your own doctor for medical advice. Thanks for watching, we’ll be back with more health questions and answers.