It's not such a sweet deal

One of the great fringe benefits of becoming a dad is that I was forced, at the age of 32, to grow up almost overnight.

My weekends no longer consist of watching Jeff Stelling and his pals on Soccer Saturday. Now my ‘days of rest’ tend to kick off at 6.30am with relentless demands for a bottle of the white stuff and it doesn’t tend to get any easier thereafter.

My challenges are no different from those facing millions of other parents.

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The list of parenting dos and don’t is endless: not getting any closer than six feet from the telly, bed by 8pm, teeth cleaned twice a day.

But the biggest challenge we face is making sure that our kids don’t end up sporting pot bellies before they start Year R as childhood obesity is a scourge which shows no sign of going away.

The figures are stark: one in five children are classed as obese before they start primary school while that increases to a one in three by the time they are 11.

But it isn’t just youngsters’ weight which is affected as the number of children requiring at least one tooth to be removed rises with each passing year. Last year that figure stood just under 41,000.

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This isn’t anything new as we seemed to be aware of the dangers of too much sugar as far back as the late 1980s, yet Governments have failed to compel food giants to reduce how much they plough into their products. Public Health England has set targets for manufacturers of certain foods to achieve by 2020. Reducing sugar levels in foods by 20 per cent is positive, until you learn that these are guidelines and are unenforceable.

Food companies have long come under fire for their use of sugar in so many of their products but would we eat them without this injection of flavour? The fact there are so many items on supermarket shelves with a sky high sugar content says more about those who consume them than anybody else.

After all, there is more information about what we eat, than at any time in history yet we choose to ignore it.

It is about time we faced up to our parental responsibilities and paid more attention to what we are feeding our children.