Mouthy Money editor Edmund Greaves meets author and entrepreneur Robert Gardner to find out about…Read More →
It’s almost that time of year again. Easter. There’s no getting away from it. It seems that as soon as the Santas retreated, and the sugary hearts fell off the supermarket shelves, the chocolate eggs sprung up sporting numerous ‘3 for £10’ offers, and ‘Just £1!’ deals. For the most part, I move through the shops unbothered by this – it’s almost comforting, in a way, that in spite of our current political predicament, terrorist attacks, and natural disasters occurring in the world, time still moves on, candidly portrayed in the form of capitalist confectionery on supermarket shelves.
The problem of childhood obesity
Yet in this sugary calendar, there’s a debate to be had, as to whether supermarkets should be holding promotions on sweets – regardless of the time of year. The argument hinges on the fact that, in this era, childhood obesity has reached a shocking rate in the UK; figures show that, by year six, 19.8% of children are obese, and a further 14.3% are overweight. These are undeniably shocking numbers.
My unpopular opinion is that the problem lies deeper than the pricing of unhealthy food. Levying a tax, and (or) making it illegal to hold promotions on sugary food is superficial at best, and ignores an uncomfortable truth – up until a certain age, during the most formative years of childhood, it is the parents who buy these snacks for their children; it is the parents that control the purse strings. Surely we should foster a culture where saying ‘no’ to a child isn’t just dependent on price, and is more so on the wellbeing of the minor in question?
Furthermore, Easter comes once a year – in my opinion, having ‘treat’ periods throughout the year is a healthy practice and one that, if correctly implemented, could help to foster restraint at other less significant points during the year. When I was a child, I had no idea whether the eggs that the Easter Bunny brought were ‘two for one’, what mattered to me was that they were there. What these special offers do is offer a helping hand to ‘barely managing’ (thanks, Theresa) hard working parents of multiple children – offering them a small saving on what is widely considered to be a cultural tradition. Why should these parents be punished in an attempt to hinder the ones who can’t say no to their little ones?
What’s the solution?
The problem of childhood obesity is a very tough one to address. However, I believe that the problem lies more in education than it does with pricing. Many parents believe that healthy food is simply more expensive than its unhealthy counterpart. However, this is not necessarily true, and it’s perfectly manageable to eat right on a budget – the problem is that many parents aren’t given the tools they need to make the right dietary choices for their children.
Maddy is a freelance illustrator who lives in Glasgow. She's recently graduated and is working hard to make ends meet. Self-employed? Read Maddy's experiences here.