Junk Food Kids: Who’s to blame?

Channel 4 (UK) documentary series, first episode broadcast on 18th February 2015.

The programme featured several overweight children, detailing their story of obesity and poor health. There were scenes of consultations with paediatric specialists and multiple teeth being surgically removed due to decay. This is on the background of reportedly one-third of children in the UK being overweight or obese and that proportion is even higher in the North.

The programme identifies various issues and seems to look to apportion blame, rather than seeking solutions.

The explosion that followed the programme on Twitter #JunkFoodKids was pretty unanimous in blaming the parents for the state of the children’s health. This is an easy and obvious conclusion to draw. You can’t blame the young child, if I offer my child broccoli or chocolate, what does he go for? Not the broccoli. It’s my responsibility. Some of the parents in the documentary did make themselves rather difficult to defend. However, we often see with overweight children, overweight parents. So the parents, you could say, are victims of the same affliction.

Do these parents know any better? Are they aware of the severity of the problem? If they are, do they have any clue on how best to deal with it?

It’s very popular to take the ‘Katy Hopkins’ approach and blame the individual, or in this case the parents. Do the parents need saving from themselves? No parent wants to see their child have the majority of their baby teeth removed surgically! I appreciate, I’m asking more questions than giving answers but such is the nature of this issue. While these children and parents are getting fatter and sicker, a profit is being made. Tobacco was sanctioned with heavy taxes and restrictions. Given the weight of evidence on the problematic nature of processed, sugary crap, why do we continue to ignore the responsibility of the food companies, who are benefitting from this situation?

As adults, we have a responsibility to those less able in society, not just the children. Parents are responsible for their child’s health, but they’re not the only ones. Cheap garbage is heavily marketed and tailor made to appeal to our taste. If you don’t fall foul to it, consider yourselves lucky, others are not so. Blaming the parents does little to solve the issue and only provides a distraction to the greater crime taking place of those profiting from the downfall of others.

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