“Bad parenting” responsible for obesity in children

Parents who fail to control what their children are eating are the focus of a new anti-obesity campaign launched by the government today.

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It follows a report from the Medical Research Council’s human nutrition research centre linking bad parenting to obesity in children. The report identified that:
*Parents often have no idea that their child is overweight and know little about the damage that could do to their health
*Are under pressure to provide high fat, salt and sugar food, not just from advertising, but from their children who do not want to be different from friends
*Think it is difficult for their children to have an active lifestyle because sporting activities can be expensive and playing out may be dangerous
*Sometimes think changing to a healthy lifestyle would be too difficult

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The report finds evidence that parents are not in control of their children’s eating habits, either because they do not want to fight over food, or because they assume it is good for children to make choices. Some 40% of children aged 6-9 choose their own evening meal as a result. The public health minister, Caroline Flint, insisted that the intention was not to make parents feel guilty or anxious, but to help them act on the information available: “I think a lot are feeling lost and a bit of a failure and really worried. They are worried about the issues but not sure what to do next.”

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Aimed at parents with children under 11, the strategy begins with a campaign to encourage parents to try to get young children to eat more fruit and vegetables.

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