OPINION

Kicking poor eating habits

The drastic, in some cases excessive, measures currently being drafted by the Labor government in Britain to curb the consumption of unhealthy items most popular with children, such as burgers, potato chips and soft drinks, are a reminder of the increasing levels of obesity in children in Greece today. According to the latest reports, 16.3 percent of Greek children aged between 13 and 19 years old and 11.9 percent of those in the 7-12 age group are overweight. For those who are obese, the rates stand at 8.6 and 6.1 percent respectively. The percentage of obese children in the 1-6 age bracket is even more alarming as it hovers close to 15 percent. This high rate underscores parents’ responsibilities for children’s poor eating habits. Moreover, obesity among youngsters also takes its toll on the people and on society at large. For the first time, young children have high levels of cholesterol. And overweight and obese children will certainly develop serious diseases later, ranging from heart problems to diabetes and depression that will last throughout adulthood. The state must take more measures to curb the consumption of foodstuffs with poor nutritional value. Banning the sale of fatty foods at schools was a positive step but officials must follow up that legal initiative with intensified inspections because in Greece the enforcement of laws tends to be short-lived. Banning the advertisement of highly processed and fatty foods will not suffice. Greek authorities must launch a new information campaign aimed at parents and young children to show the damaging effects of consuming unhealthy foodstuffs. Everyone knows that children are the future. We cannot let our future be undermined by poor eating habits. Responsibility lies with the family as well as the with the state.