The taste for fat that develops in childhood is difficult to change in the adulthood.
Nowadays obesity yields the first place only to smoking as a global cause of mortality. Overweight has proven link with cardiovascular diseases, colon cancer, gastric cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, infertility and stroke. Young people who are obese are facing not only long-term but also direct threats to their health. The seriously obese American kids between the age of 6 and 10 die of heart attack caused by their weight.
The obesity epidemic which started in the US in the end of the 70’s is spread throughout the world at the moment, as fast food is one of its vectors. Between 1984 and 1993 the number of fast food restaurants in UK has doubled and the percentage of obesity among children as well. Overweight in the young is a much smaller problem in Italy and Spain where people spend relatively less for fast food. The increasing popularity of fast food is only one of the many cultural changes, brought by globalization. However, it looks like wherever the fast food chains go, the waists of their consumers start to increase. In China the number of teens who are overweight has increased almost three times in the last ten years. In Japan eating hamburgers and French fries hasn’t made the people blonder but has made them fatter. In the past, people with extra weight were rare there. The national diet of rice, fish, vegetables and soy products is believed one of the healthiest in the World. Together with the global tendency to obesity, Bulgarian kids take their place among the Western and American children. Every fifth pupil here is with extra weight and Bulgaria is on second place in the World for obesity and overweight in this age group after the US.
Obesity is quite difficult to cure.
During thousands of years of civilization, marked with periods of lack of food, human beings have developed effective mechanisms for energy storage in the form of fat. Until recently, societies rarely enjoyed the superabundance of cheap food. As a result our bodies are much better in gaining kilograms than in losing them. The health authorities have concluded long time ago that prevention rather than treatment offers the best hopes for stopping world’s obesity outbreak, among children in particular as well. The European consumer groups want a total ban of all television commercials aimed at children.
In 1991 Sweden prohibited all television commercials for children under the age of 12. Restrictions on advertising during children’s programs have been imposed in Greece, Norway, Denmark, Austria and the Netherlands. In many countries the eating habits of the American kids are considered a good example of what the others should avoid. Nowadays, American kids receive ? of all consumed vegetables in the form of French fries and potato chips. A research of the advertisings in EU finds that 95% of food ads encourage the consumption of foods rich in sugar, salt and fat. The company which has released the most commercials aimed at children is Mc Donald’s.
Bulgaria hasn’t stayed aside from the thought how to eat healthier, but here initiatives are mainly at the level of ideas and there are no serious restrictions about marketing of junk food yet.
Regulations on cereal-based foods and those for small children determine what the jars and boxes can contain. Indirectly this should limit the products which are sold as children’s food – the cereals, to which milk or juice is added, as well as the cookies should contain no more than 3.3g fat per every 100 kcal.
There is no legal definition of harmful food in Bulgaria but there is increased thinking that advertising food products aimed at children should be restricted.
Children should not be the people who decide what to eat because they are highly susceptible to suggestions and possess no knowledge and experience in proper nutrition.
The topic in “NEWSROOM” on TV7 was discussed with Dr. Rayna Stoyanova and Biliana Mileva from the initiative Now We Move: