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Expatriate Insurance News: Parents 'should not use sweets as treats'

Expatriates with private international health insurance policies may wish to ensure their children are eating healthily.

According to Zoe Harcombe, nutritionist and author of Stop Counting Calories & Start Losing Weight: The Harcombe Diet, parents must view  giving their children junk foods and sugary sweets in the same light as they would handing them heart disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes and the other illnesses linked to poor eating choices.

Currently, adults view providing youngsters with treats and chocolates as "being nice to them", although it sends people into a "manic half an hour", followed by a two-hour crash and an urge for more sugar, she explained.

Food manufacturers want members of the public addicted to this cycle from a young age, the expert declared, calling on caregivers to counteract this and protect children.

Ms Harcombe pointed out young people are not allowed to smoke and drink, arguing processed foods and hydrogenated vegetable oils are "just as harmful" as these habits.

If it is permissible to give youngsters these products on birthdays, Easter, Halloween and Christmas, they will want sugary snacks and treats constantly, as they are "highly addictive", she remarked.

When parents count all of the days that their children overindulge in these products, they may find they have had "junk more days than not", the nutritionist continued.

She asked: "Where do you draw the line?"

Instead, local fruits, vegetables, salads, seeds, nuts and whole grains for people with the right metabolism were recommended by Ms Harcombe.

Fast food can be significantly healthier when made from scratch than when bought from a takeaway or restaurant, the British Heart Foundation noted.

The organisation admitted most people like to have a treat from time-to-time and cravings for unhealthy products are well known, but stated sensible ingredients and cooking methods can reduce the fat, salt and sugar content of many meals.

Small products such as currant buns, dried fruit or apples can be used for between-meal snacks, it suggested.

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