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Kids’ energy drinks adds to obesity problem
A GROWING trend for children to have energy drinks could be one factor behind alarming obesity rates, according to the town’s health bosses.
Liz Gaulton, director of public health at St Helens Council, is tasked with reducing weight problems among the town’s children.
One fifth of 10-year-olds are classed as obese and the health boss believes a “cultural shift” is needed.
Weight levels of children entering school at five is average – but, according to Mrs Gaulton, problems begin when they start making choices about what they eat and see products advertised on TV.
A common sight in the morning can be the sight of school pupils guzzling energy drinks and the health director believes it is one trend that parents need to question.
She told the Star: “One of the culprits that are emerging is energy drinks.
“They are really popular and fashionable among children. There are a lot worse things they could be doing, such as drinking alcohol and smoking.
“But these fizzy drinks have a real status to them and they are just empty calories.
“There is absolutely no nutritional value in them at all. Some give you a buzz of caffeine and a burst of energy, but it wears off again.
“All of that needs tackling. As a council we have to put the right services in place for people who want to tackle obesity.”
Recently released statistics by the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development, show that England has one of the highest levels of children having sugary soft drinks, with just under 40 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds having them daily.
In Finland the number is just five per cent.
Meanwhile, research by Public Health England, suggests there is a link between how long children watch TV and their health and happiness.
Their report, ‘How healthy behaviour supports children’s well-being’, says that it can also lead to confidence issues.
Children who spend more time on computers and watching too much TV tend to experience higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression, the organisation claims. The statistics show that the problem is nationwide and are published as a new Change4Life (Smart Restart) campaign is launched to encourage families to use the back to school period to adopt a healthier lifestyle – including reducing children’s screen time.
The number of 10-year-olds classed as being overweight in St Helens is 35.1 per cent compared to 33.9 per cent nationally.
The healthy eating programme run by St Helens Council, Fit 4 Life’ is run by NHS staff and Saints community coaches. The free sessions are aimed at children between four and 13 who are above a healthy weight.
It encourages children to learn about healthy eating, taking part in fun activity sessions, understanding portion sizes and to talk about junk food, snacks and treats. For further information call 0300 300 0103.
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