Reconsidering food rewards

16:00, Mar 04 2014

Southern parents are being urged to reward their overweight children with hugs and smiles rather than food.

Public Health South is working with the southern community to promote healthy eating and child safety as part of Well Child Week, which runs until Sunday.

New Zealand Health Survey results for 2012 show 7.4 per cent of children in Southland are considered obese, while 70.1 per cent of children in New Zealand aged 5 to 9 eat fast food at least once a week.

Public Health South medical officer of health Marion Poore said childhood obesity was escalating.

"Children are often bombarded with treats - from home, at and after sport - such as fast-food vouchers, and fundraising in schools," she said.

Dr Poore said parents needed to consider if a food treat was necessary.

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"A smile or a thumbs up or a hug is a great way of rewarding children who just love your time and attention."

Invercargill McDonald's franchisee Cherie Edwards said some Southland junior rugby clubs will be offered McDonald's vouchers this season as a player incentive "but we offer healthy options at McDonald's, too".

Marist Old Boys Rugby Football Club junior convener Pete Mulenbrook said he did not think it was the club's job to educate children about nutrition.

"We are a rugby club. That's a job for the parents and schools," he said.

Rugby Southland commercial and marketing manager Mark Wilson said the sport had struggled with changing old nutritional values.

"We have tried to move away from pies and sausage rolls and offer players more wraps and sandwiches," he said.

But he recognised the sport needed help from community leaders to educate junior rugby players about healthier nutritional habits.

Netball South high performance manager Jo Morrison said in recent years the sport had developed a more holistic approach to junior development.

"We are trying to produce a complete athlete.

"That includes educating them about healthy food choices and nutrition," she said.

The Southland Times