Nino Severino: Let’s stop putting cost before the health of our children

Nino Severino, right, is passionate about the health and wellbeing of children. Picture: ARCHANT

Nino Severino, right, is passionate about the health and wellbeing of children. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Su Anderson

In his latest column, Nino Severino calls for action to prevent the ticking time bomb of children’s health exploding.

My involvement in children’s wellbeing and development fills a major part of my life, through my work as chairman of the Elena Baltacha Foundation, and the work as fitness programme designer in partnership with the national company ISS.

So, as you can imagine, I was absolutely shocked to read recently that there were more than 42,000 operations in England to remove young children’s decaying teeth last year.

I see this as just one small indicator of the dangerous direction we are moving along in terms of the wellbeing of our children. And it saddens me that one of the main drivers of this terrible situation is the profiteering of some of the best-known brands in the world.

Something must happen, and happen very soon. I wish that tooth decay was the only issue that we need to worry about, this is bad enough, but unfortunately it is much broader and deeper than this.

It’s the physical and mental wellbeing of our children that needs to be taken very seriously as well – let’s face it, our young children today will be the mums and dads of the future and that scares me to my core as many of them are being exposed to so many health negatives.

It’s almost like the most powerful individuals in the land, who have the responsibility of protecting and developing our children, seem to simply be sticking their heads in the sand, it’s just jaw dropping.

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We have the resources – after all the UK has the fifth biggest economy in the world – so let’s not beat around the bush here, if there was a strong enough will, focus and motivation, a serious and successful health movement for children could start tomorrow. If you confront politicians about this situation, they will start to reel off statistics and numbers that would have you believe that investment is at an all-time high, health programmes, both physical, mental and emotional are in place and all is well, harmonious and positive.

The reality is this could not be further from the truth when you start to go forensic and look at the real effect our lifestyle is having on children. We are, without doubt, in a dark period.

We have some fantastic personalities and celebrities who are leading the charge and doing their best to make these issues high profile, but it will take more than this.

It needs an acceptance from the powers who run our country and produces laws and policies that we are in this terrible situation because our children are becoming addicted to foods that harbour seriously dangerous levels of sugars, fats and toxicity – and these products are pro-actively and aggressively being marketed and targeted at our young developing children.

What depresses me the most is that the solution is not exactly rocket science, and I’m not being naïve, ill-informed or uneducated in this area.

Let’s be honest, the first major and positive decision that must be made is the mind-set that no expense can be spared when looking at this issue – we are talking about the health and well-being of our children and future population.

So, let’s stop putting cost before children’s health, and look at the basics that need to be addressed and addressed now.

Based on the UK being one of the richest economies in the world, financial investment absolutely cannot be used as an excuse, this is simply embarrassing.

It’s the will, by all who have the power, to create a new commercial culture that will once and for all deal with these massive problems and set us on a trajectory that could potentially be one of the most positive and important actions taken by government this century.

I fear if these decisions are not made, and made now, in ten years we will look back in horror in terms of what we let happen.

If these positive decisions are made, the work could begin in earnest tomorrow, and the three biggest areas of concern could be addressed immediately – and that’s the mental and physical health of our kids, their diet, and stopping the process which is turning our children into addicts, making many companies and individuals very, very rich.

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