Sunday, August 17, 2008

"Junk" diet makes kids naughty

What utter crap! All the data show is that mothers who fed their kids disapproved food had kids who were less well behaved -- i.e. working class mothers had rattier children. It's entirely explicable as a class effect, not a diet effect

Eating junk food as toddlers makes kids more badly behaved at school, medics reveal today. Sugary and fatty snacks have been blamed for naughtiness and poor concentration, leading to campaigns for healthier lunches. But research has now found that if children are given bad diet as young as THREE the damage has already been done by the time they go to school.

Studies showed that pupils who had been fed processed grub as toddlers were the worst-behaved in class and performed the worst in tests. The findings emerged from a major study by the University of London's Institute for Education. The probe, part of the Bristol Children of the 90s medical research project, looked at data from 14,000 children. It found that those on a junk food diet aged three were less likely to achieve the expected levels of improvement between six and ten.

Dr Pauline Emmett, a nutritionist from the University of Bristol, said: "We are confident that this is a robust association. "It indicates that early eating patterns have effects that persist over time, regardless of later changes in diet. So it is very important for children to eat a well-balanced diet from an early age if they are to get the best out of their education." The study showed that a child's diet at a later age has less impact on their school performance.

Turkey twizzlers, burgers and chips have been blamed for behaviour problems and the Government has spent millions overhauling school meals following a campaign led by TV chef Jamie Oliver. Many schools have banned junk food completely as a result. Improved meals are expected to boost performance in the classroom.


British fat Fascists want to seize kids

Grossly overweight children may be taken from their families and put into care if Britain's obesity epidemic continues to escalate, council chiefs said yesterday. The Local Government Association argued that parents who allowed their children to eat too much could be as guilty of neglect as those who did not feed their children at all.

The association said that until now there had been only a few cases when social services had intervened in obesity cases. But it gave warning that local councils may have to take action much more often and, if necessary, put obese children on "at risk" registers or take them into care. It called for new guidelines to be drawn up to help authorities deal with the issue.

There have been some reported cases where children under 10 have weighed up to 14st (89kg) and a three-year-old has weighed 10st - putting them at a high risk of diabetes and heart disease. Only last week a 15-year-old girl in Wales was told by doctors that she could "drop dead at any moment" after tipping the scales at 33st.

David Rogers, the Local Government Association's public health spokesman, said that by 2012 an estimated million children would be obese and by 2025 about a quarter of all boys would be grossly overweight. "Councils are increasingly having to consider taking action where parents are putting children's health in real danger," he said. "As the obesity epidemic grows, these tricky cases will keep on cropping up. Councils would step in to deal with an undernourished and neglected child, so should a case with a morbidly obese child be different? If parents consistently place their children at risk through bad diet and lack of exercise, is it right that a council should step in to keep the child's health under review?"

"The nation's expanding waistline threatens to have a devastating impact on our public services. It's a huge issue for public health, but it also risks placing an unprecedented amount of pressure on council services."

The association called for a national debate on how much local authorities should intervene in obesity cases. As a basic minimum, social services or health visitors should talk to the families involved, give them advice and show them how to provide healthy meals. "But in the worst cases [the children] would need to be put on `at risk' registers or taken into care."

Last year Cumbria County Council put an eight-year old girl into care as she was dangerously overweight. Anne Ridgway, of Cumbria Primary Care Trust, said that it was extremely rare for a child to be put into care just because of their weight. "Even then the care proceedings may well have been instigated because of related problems rather than exclusively because of their weight," she said. Extreme cases of obesity could become a child protection issue because obesity "can have very serious consequences for a child's health and the parental behaviour that leads to childhood obesity can be a form of neglect".

Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: "Children who are dangerously overweight should be brought into hospital, where they can be given 24-hour care for several weeks or months. But their parents should have access to them."

The Conservative Party said that taking children into care was a serious step. Andrew Landsley, the Shadow Health Secretary, said that in many cases "it would be better to help the parents provide better nutrition for their child rather than break up the family".


Why seizing fat kids would solve nothing

A recent Department of Health study showed that one schoolchild in three is either overweight or clinically obese - and they were the ones who agreed to be weighed. A fifth of the children opted out of their appointment with the scales. I'm willing to bet that an even higher proportion of them would have been wearing clothes labelled "XXL".

I usually meet at least one fat child a day in my surgery and I can guarantee that they will have been brought along to talk about a cough, a verruca, anything apart from their weight. More often than not the accompanying parent is also markedly overweight.

We learn how to cope with stress on our mother's knees. It would seem that these children have learnt how to comfort eat from one parent or both. I know that these children will grow up to suffer heart problems, premature arthritis and early-onset diabetes as a direct result of their obesity. I also know that if I comment on it their parent will go on the defensive. They usually make light of it, asking why I am making a big deal about a couple of inches of puppy fat.

Some experts argue that these children will do better if they are removed from the parental home. They need to consider two issues. First, the child may have developed the comfort-eating habit as a way of coping with stress, so being moved to another family will not undo that. Secondly, removal from the family is the most stressful event that could happen in a young child's life and could well lead to even more overeating.

It is easy to talk about "tough love" and locks on the fridge door but the only way to get to the root of the problem is to deal with the family as a whole.


Disgusting British bureaucrats again

Have some nausea tablets on hand when you read their totally dishonest final comment below. The hypocrisy is unbelievable

They are calling it the Battle of Birks Road. An indignant group of neighbours stood like David against the Goliath of local authority instransigence: council refusemen and their waste lorry. A dispute over the binmen's refusal to collect a backlog of rubbish developed into a tense, one-hour stand-off in the quiet cul-de-sac. Children and parents formed a human chain to prevent the lorry leaving. One resident parked his car across the road to block its departure. Tempers boiled. Police were called and eventually order was restored when the binmen backed down. The lorry duly collected all the rubbish bags and was waved on its way.

Residents of Birks Road, in Huddersfield, had become frustrated by Kirklees Council's failure to remove extra bags of rubbish which had built up after refuse collectors staged a two-day strike last month. After the stoppage, collections resumed but although the householders' bins were emptied as normal, the accumulated extra bags were left to rot at the side of the road. Residents say they contacted the council and were promised that a "rapid response" vehicle would be sent to collect the bags. Two weeks later, they were still lying on the road.

Patience finally snapped on Wednesday when the binmen arrived, several hours late, and again refused to clear away the excess rubbish. Neighbours offered to load the bags into the lorry themselves, but were told that was against the regulations.

Mark Copley, an electrician, finally snapped and made the first move by climbing into his car and trapping the dustcart inside the cul-de-sac. Mr Copley, 30, said he told the three refuse men: "I'm not having this. Move my rubbish and I'll move my car." His neighbour, Rebecca Jones, 32, said that as the blockade continued the council agreed to send a second vehicle to pick up the excess rubbish. When it arrived, "a guy in a shirt and tie appeared and said that to teach us a lesson they were not going to empty the bins in the street". It was then that a human chain, including children, was formed around the lorry.

"Finally, one of the men said they would clear the rubbish if we moved, so we did and they kept to their word. "We pay $288 a month in council tax. For them to strike when they feel like it and then not to collect our rubbish was just not on."

A council spokesman said: "The collection crews always do their best to collect everyone's waste," he said. "This minor incident was quickly resolved, in line with what we would expect of our collection crews."


British kids can get a GCSE (Middle school) mathematics pass by reading a thermometer

Teenagers were required to read a simple thermometer and measure a straight line with a ruler to pass a GCSE maths exam, The Daily Telegraph has learned. Just days before results for 600,000 pupils will be released, it emerged 16-year-olds could gain a C grade in the test - officially a good pass - by answering two-thirds of the "simple" questions correctly. The disclosure prompted fresh claims that tests were being "dumbed down", with the Conservatives insisting they were "suitable for an eight-year-old".

It comes as results published next week are expected to show fewer than half of pupils leave school with five good GCSEs including English and maths - the standard expected of all 16-year-olds. Just over 55 per cent of pupils gained at least a C grade in maths last year. It follows fears that many young people are being turned off the subject because of a lack of rigour in the curriculum.

A report by the think-tank Reform said GCSEs were "considerably" easier than 50 years ago as questions had been simplified to make them more relevant to modern teenagers. The Telegraph obtained a foundation tier GCSE paper set by the Assessment and Qualifications Alliance, Britain's biggest exam board. In one question, pupils are asked to read a diagram of a thermometer. One arrow points to 13C and another to -4C, with students required write down the temperatures for two marks. Another question presents pupils with seven numbers - 24, 26, 29, 34, 40, 47 and 55 - and asks to write down the multiples of five and eight.

Pupils are also shown a short line and asked to measure it - giving their answer in millimetres. They are then required to measure 4cm along the line and mark it on the exam script.

In another question pupils are asked to write down the most suitable metric unit to measure the distance from London to Edinburgh. And one more asks students, who cannot use a calculator, to multiply 350 by two.

Pupils sitting the foundation tier test can score C to G grades. They need to get around two-thirds of questions correct to gain a C in the exam element of the GCSE.

Last night, AQA said questions were easier at the beginning of the exam but became more challenging, including those testing circle area, formulation and solution of equations, algebraic simplification and angle geometry. The exam was just one element of the GCSE, the board said, and pupils must also complete two pieces of coursework, a statistics module, a number module and a second test paper - some four hours and 40 minutes worth of assessment.

"The skills tested by the questions in the paper referred to are all part of the specified content for GCSE which has been unchanged for five years so such questions will have appeared on foundation papers in the past," said a spokesman. "AQA is confident that sufficient evidence is therefore present to ensure that candidates awarded a grade C on this tier will have shown comparable performance to candidates awarded grade C on the higher tier this year."

Nick Gibb, the Conservative shadow schools minister, said: "This is primary level maths suitable for an eight or nine-year-old. It is clear evidence that GCSEs have been dumbed down."


Britain today: "Imagine telling somebody twenty years ago that by 2007, it would be illegal to smoke in a pub or bus shelter or your own vehicle or that there would be $160 fines for dropping cigarette butts, or that the words "tequila slammer" would be illegal or the government would mandate what angle a drinker's head in an advertisement may be tipped at, or that it would be illegal to criticise religions or homosexuality, or rewire your own house, or that having sex after a few drinks would be classed as rape or that the State would be confiscating children for being overweight. Imagine telling them the government would be contemplating ration cards for fuel and even foods, that every citizen would be required to carry an ID card filled with private information which could be withdrawn at the state's whim. They'd have thought you a paranoid loon."

British bureaucrats condemn 4-year-olds: "School inspectors have written to children as young as 4 warning them that they were not learning enough to prepare them for their adult lives. The letters, from Ofsted, the education watchdog, were written in simple English as part of a drive for transparency on how schools are performing. Pupils at a primary school in Nottinghamshire that had been placed under special measures were told that they were failing in core subjects. The children were told to make more effort to behave in class. A letters to pupils in West Yorkshire read: "We decided that the school needs to be helped to improve. Most aspects of the school's work are not good enough." Children in London were told: "You need to improve your writing and maths to help you get jobs when you are older."

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