Adults in Oldham need to set a better example by eating healthier diets and even mentoring football teams and dance groups – if we are to stop an alarming number of kids getting type two diabetes.
That is the view of health campaigner Dr Zahid Chauhan after shock new statistics showed that nearly 7,000 young Britons have been officially diagnosed with the condition.
Type two diabetes can result in blindness and limb amputation and since it is linked to obesity, a huge risk of heart disease and stroke.
All of which has prompted Dr Chauhan to call for more sanction on advertisers and retailers, and parents and other grown-ups to junk poor diets and promote exercise.
“This problem is a direct result of the rise of cheap, non-nutritious food and frankly, shockingly poor attitudes to personal health and activity” said Dr Chauhan, “the first case of diabetes in children wasn’t even diagnosed until 2000 and now we have kids under 11 contracting a dangerous life-long condition. What are we going to do to stop our lifestyles killing not only ourselves but our children?”
In response to the crisis, Dr Chauhan wants to see strong legislation on the sale of salt and sugar-filled food (including the energy drinks so popular with teenagers). He also successfully passed a motion in council recently to create Health Zones in Oldham. This will mean any policy, programme or project that does not necessarily have health as its primary objective will be subject to a robust Health Impact Assessment.
Continued Dr Chauhan: “I support celebrity chef and nutritionist Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s drive to stop pushing chocolate at the check-out for example. And though it has its opponents within the food and drinks industry, the sugar tax and tighter controls on advertising would surely make a change to everything from waist lines to how many cavities our children have.”
Also campaigning to stop the sale of sports facilities and increase the amount spent on national health campaigns, Dr Chauhan firmly believes that all adults – whether they are parents or not – can show a lead and get involved.
“From setting out a plate of nutritious food for our children to adults smoking and drinking less we could set a better example” concluded Dr Chauhan “I also believe that those of us with skills in sport, even dance and drama, could volunteer more of our time to help run clubs and mentor and nurture young people into healthier lifestyles. As I have seen when I work with youngsters in my local community it is not only rewarding for them to learn skills, it breaks down barriers and builds up our skills-set and confidence. Plus, we would be doing our bit to beat diabetes and ensure our next generation don’t endure physical suffering.”