GPs should teach parents how to prepare simple foods such as potatoes and beans in the fight against childhood obesity

  • Healthcare professionals say there isn’t enough time to teach healthy eating
  • Obesity campaigners said it should not be up to GPs to teach cooking skills

GPs should teach parents how to prepare simple foods, such as potatoes and beans, to reduce childhood obesity.

Overburdened GPs say a lack of specialist services means they are giving healthy prescription advice to those with overweight children.

According to a survey, many are struggling to tackle the growing problem, blaming a lack of training and capacity.

With over a third of children (37 percent) overweight by the time they leave primary school, Britain faces a time bomb of health problems as they get older.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham carried out in-depth interviews with healthcare professionals to understand their experiences of supporting families with weight loss.

More than a third of children (37 percent) are overweight by the time they leave primary school; Britain is facing a time bomb of health problems as they age

In one comment, a caregiver said, “I had a mother and her child was overweight, but she was a young parent and she didn’t really know how to cook dinner.

‘We spent a lot of time with her giving her worksheets, how to cook and make potatoes and beans, instead of going to the fish and chip shop.’

Healthcare professionals complained about insufficient time and training to support families, and the limited availability of specialized services.

They reported that access to routinely collected data on children’s weight was poor and that highlighting concerns about children’s weight would undermine trust.

Others said they were aware of cultural considerations when raising weight, according to the findings published in the British Journal of General Practice.

Last night anti-obesity campaigners said it should not be up to GPs to teach cooking skills.

Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘It’s sad that doctors have to teach their patients cooking skills, because millions of British families have no idea how to prepare a healthy meal.

‘There was a time when excellent cooking education in schools meant that children left secondary school with a good basic knowledge of food, but that has largely disappeared.’

The latest figures on childhood obesity show that 22.7 per cent of year 6 pupils were classified as obese or severely obese in 2022/2023.

When the figures for obesity and overweight are added together, this figure rises to 36.6 percent of children, meaning that more than one in three is a healthy weight.

Miranda Pallan, professor of child and adolescent public health who led the research, said: ‘Through the series of interviews with doctors, primary care nurses and school nurses, we were able to see some clear barriers to effective advice and support for families. to tackle the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

‘While we shouldn’t expect doctors to spend a lot of time teaching families how to prepare healthy, balanced meals, the research does highlight that healthcare professionals need more support and dedicated time to enable them to provide practical advice. specialized services.’