Leader: We’ll fight obesity once Christmas is over

Experts have found that children can consume more than four times their recommended calorie intake on Christmas Day.

Experts have found that children can consume more than four times their recommended calorie intake on Christmas Day.

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BAH and, what’s more, humbug!

There are few greater pleasures known to humankind than slumping on the sofa after Christmas dinner, slugging back a Snowball and trying to locate, amid the litter of empty wrappers, the last Cadbury Hero in the tub. Indulgence and Christmas are inseparable, as far as we can see.

We mean no disrespect to those for whom the festive season remains a celebration of faith, but chefs at leading supermarkets didn’t spend months perfecting new ranges of party food just for us to miss the opportunity to eat as much of it as possible.

If the Christmas sweater one unwraps in the morning isn’t just that little more snug by the end of the day, then something has gone wrong.

But Dr Peter Fowlie – officer for Scotland for the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and, therefore, a professional whose words carry considerable weight – warns that overeating at Christmas during childhood can lead to obesity in later years.

Experts have found that children can consume more than four times their recommended calorie intake on Christmas Day.

We know that obesity is a problem in Scotland, with a serious impact on our health service. A fifth of Scottish children are overweight and almost a third are at risk of becoming so.

So there is much to be done to educate Scots about the importance of a healthy diet. The Scottish Government has taken action on smoking, banning it in public places, and alcohol, enforcing minimum pricing, but unhealthy food remains a problem not fully addressed.

Let’s see the Scottish Government take real action to improve the health of our children. Let’s see physical education become more prominent in the curriculum and let’s see more investment in sports clubs and facilities. And, yes, let’s talk about taxes on unhealthy food and tighter regulations over what ingredients may or may not be used during mass production.

But let’s not start this fight on Christmas Day.

During the bleak days of the bitter Scottish winter, the festive season is a comforting oasis: it lifts our spirits.

So we can’t guarantee we’ll follow Dr Fowlie’s advice about taking it easy on the 25th. Though we do promise to eat our sprouts.

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