Shea Tomkins

Bray People - - NEWS - Shea Tomkins

WE WERE try­ing to get the young lad to eat some cab­bage to­day. As he sat there sway­ing his fork about with a mouth­ful of boiled cab­bage cling­ing onto its teeth for dear life, I threw him a line of en­cour­age­ment.

‘Gareth Bale loves cab­bage,' I said, with­out a shred of ev­i­dence to back up my claim.

He stopped ro­tat­ing the cab­bage and looked at me. ‘What about Ron­aldo?' ‘Yep, he loves it too.' ‘Messi?' ‘Can't get enough of it.' Within sec­onds he was guz­zling down the veg­etable that has an un­fair rep­u­ta­tion among the young of to­day. He washed it down with gulps of milk, to pre­vent the taste from lin­ger­ing in his mouth.

There has been a lot about the di­etary habits of chil­dren in the me­dia lately.

The French have re­cently launched an all-out war on their wors­en­ing child­hood obe­sity prob­lem, with a poster of an ice-cream cone ( pic­tured) hit­ting home the mes­sage to par­ents in no un­cer­tain terms.

The slo­gan that runs across the bot­tom of the im­age trans­lates as ‘obe­sity starts at a young age'. Once seen, it is un­for­get­table. Though I feel it's a bit hard on the ‘99’ when along with sun­burn, wasp stings and builders' bums, they are a vi­tal com­po­nent of an Ir­ish sum­mer.

Mean­while, the Ir­ish health watch­dog has launched a cam­paign to get more chil­dren play­ing out­side again. Called Safe­food's Bring Back Play, the cam­paign hopes to re­verse a cur­rent trend where many chil­dren are not get­ting enough ex­er­cise. The cam­paign­ers claim that cur­rently four out of five chil­dren are not reach­ing the op­ti­mum 60 min­utes of ac­tiv­ity per day and about 25 per cent of pri­mary school stu­dents are over­weight or obese.

It rec­om­mends fif­teen games that you might re­mem­ber from your own child­hood. These are games that should tempt the young ones into call­ing time on their re­la­tion­ship with a joy­stick and ex­plain­ing to Sonic, Mario, Ratchet, Clank and the gang that there are plenty of other ac­tiv­i­ties in the sea.

Do you re­mem­ber Kerbs, Tip the Can, Tig, Rounders, Si­mon Says, Hop­scotch or even Skip­ping? In­deed, there was a time when kids were given a stick of chalk, a rope, and they would stay out­side from dawn till dusk (with the odd meal break of course).

I sup­pose the point the health watch­dogs are try­ing to get across is that we all played these games as kids, but how many of to­day's young­sters have even heard tell of them? Or would they have any in­ter­est in play­ing them? There­fore, it takes an ef­fort on our parts to en­cour­age them. Child­hood obe­sity has the po­ten­tial to worsen rapidly; the French poster cam­paign is in re­sponse to the fact that the num­ber of obese people in France has dou­bled to seven mil­lion in re­cent years. As for the Ir­ish govern­ment fol­low­ing suit with bill­board posters of ‘99s’ drip­ping in straw­berry syrup and a choco­late flake rock­et­ing out up top? I don’t think so. I imag­ine it would have the op­po­site ef­fect on Ir­ish brains, and the sales of ‘99s’ would rocket through the roof. For max­i­mum im­pact, they would have to think of a poster far more gut-wrench­ing than that.

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