Common sense is a factor too seldom dominating our lives and so it is with the facts of early living in Great Britain
We are living in a latitude north of most of France and certainly of the USA and we need to be careful that we get plenty of sunshine from a young age and also that our diet is dominated by the dumplings and fat of northern European countries, just as it is with Sephardic groups compared with Ashkenazim.
For holidays, we prefer going south and east rather than north. We look upon ourselves as Europeans and so we are but northern Europeans, not southern Europeans, who we regard as distant relatives. So no wonder our diets attend badly to represent the Mediterranean diet and have too much of the starchy diet of the north.
Therefore we ignore the importance of this factor for the young. So the incidence for the young is less even than Holland, where it is considered normal to breastfeed until the age of one, and it is reflected in childhood obesity.
So Dr Barker and his colleagues at Southampton University were curious to note birth weight and future development in the young and eventually they found records kept by midwives for births of babies born after the war and how they were linked possibly with epidemic diseases. Surely enough, they unearthed some results from wartime data and later from those who survived WWII in the Home Counties.
They followed obese babies who are now getting to be 60-65 and showing diseases of affluence. The connection with diseases like diabetes and coronary heart disease was remarkable and was developed by many authorities, particularly in Scandinavia and it was confirmed on a number of occasions. Big babies were not bonny babies as they were too big early on and that was traced to diet in the early years.
It therefore behoves intending parents to consider their diet as much as it does the aged. Many people recognise the granny context “fetch granny her glasses to read by the fire … and granny will give you a Smartie”. That sort of message destroys parents’ attempts to get children to prefer other sources of sugar. It also behoves young couples and even single mothers to pause for consideration before they bring young into the world. So it follows that the diet that they follow before the age of five has a great deal of effect on their health at 65. Birth is not a trivial matter that can be left to the welfare state. That is where it is important that young people consider the fortunes of the young as much as in the “pleasures of life” before they embark on production of children.
Professor Barker’s subject extends the time from conception to 65, with results dating back to the first birthday. That is the first message, that children aged 5 to 8 deserve as much consideration in their early years and VEGA is trying to persuade everybody of these facts. A paper in the New England Journal of Medicine is relevant and returns to the Barker hypothesis that children who were 4 maintaining life until the age of 5 were 4 times less likely to develop obesity than a teenager.
Therefore we stress the importance at these early ages of diet as one of the important factors in development. VEGA has done all it can to encourage the following of diets of the young of a similar age in this country. So with the foods we recommend as well as with the substitutions, we have attempted to follow good practices and with fun at an early age, trying much harder to be strict. We have our own recipes which deserve attention and experimentation and we follow good practices to get plenty of exercise, drink plenty of water and follow our recipes with the introduction of Mediterranean foods.
In this, VEGA leads the way and represents the environment, wildlife and kindness to the planet, rather than rigid dietary practices. For fizzy drinks, for example, we now have smoothies – with vitamin C and no added sugar and a handy way of eating novel fruits and unfamiliar berries. Raspberries and Strawberries are available throughout the year, for example, so we’d recommend these dietary changes for anyone wishing to follow the Green Plan in their thinking.