Family doctors are having to teach parents how to cook simple foods like potato and beans in a bid to reduce childhood obesity.

Overstretched GPs say a lack of specialist services means they are offering healthy recipe advice to those with overweight children.

Many are struggling to tackle growing problem, blaming a lack of training and capacity, according to a survey.

With more than a third of children (37 per cent) overweight by the time they leave primary school, the UK faces a timebomb of health conditions as they get older.

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

More than a third of children (37 per cent) overweight by the time they leave primary school, the UK faces a timebomb of health conditions as they get older

More than a third of children (37 per cent) overweight by the time they leave primary school, the UK faces a timebomb of health conditions as they get older

More than a third of children (37 per cent) overweight by the time they leave primary school, the UK faces a timebomb of health conditions as they get older

In one response, a healthcare professional said: ‘I had one mum and her child was overweight, but she was a young parent and she actually didn’t know how to cook the dinners.

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

Healthcare professionals complained of insufficient time and training to support families, including limited availability for specialist services.

They reported poor access to routinely collected data on children’s weight and had concerns about damaging trust by highlighting weight concerns about children.

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

Last night, obesity campaigners said it should not be down to GPs to teach cooking skills.

Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, said: ‘It is pitiful that doctors are having to teach their patients cooking skills because millions of UK families have no idea of how to prepare a healthy meal.

‘Time was when excellent cookery teaching in schools used to ensure that kids left secondary school with good basic knowledge about food – but that has mostly gone.’

Latest childhood obesity figures show 22.7 per cent of year 6 pupils were classed as obese or severely obese in 2022/23.

When obesity and overweight figures are taken together, the figure rises to 36.6 per cent of children, meaning more than one in three are above a healthy weight.

Miranda Pallan, Professor of Child and Adolescent Public Health who led the study, said: ‘Through the series of interviews with doctors, primary care nurses and school nurses, we have been able to see some clear barriers that prevent effective advice and support for families to tackle the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

‘While we should not expect doctors to be spending lots of time teaching families how to cook healthy, balanced meals, the study does highlight that healthcare professionals need more support and dedicated time to enable them to give practical advice and in some cases refer to more specialist services.’

Source: Mail Online

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