Posted in Kafevend Blog
Today we're going to take a look at the role Britain's beloved tea could play at restoring our collective waistline. Whilst a significant minority of us continue to disbelieve the evidence of global warming, there can surely be no one left in any doubt whatsoever of the obesity epidemic. In the UK almost two thirds of adults are overweight or obese. It's an issue that can begin early in life too, with The National Child Measurement Programme's latest findings showing that almost a third of Y6 children and over a fifth of those entering reception class are already either overweight or obese.
One of the problems we face is our own altered perceptions; as the population grows heavier, what's seen as normal gradually shifts. We constantly compare ourselves with one another as we are now, but if we had access to a time machine we'd see a very stark contrast. Clothing retailers add to the false impression; a women's size 10 today bears little relation to a size 10 twenty or thirty years ago.
So does the world of hot drinks have any advice to offer to help combat the issue? In some ways, yes it does. Last Autumn we broached the subject of the temptations of gourmet coffee in a blog aptly named, Counting the Calories and concluded that it's best to steer towards a plain coffee, or indeed an old fashioned cup of tea, if you're worried about your increasing girth. If that sounds dull then pick your way through the ever increasing range of herbal and fruit teas on the market. Variety is the spice of life as they say, and a nice spicy masala chai could be just the ticket.
How does that help children though, the parents amongst you may be wondering. Surprising as it may be to some, until comparatively recently tea was commonly given to children in this country. Indeed it's what many of us were weaned onto. The proportion of young children drinking tea has steadily declined though. In the 1950s over half the nation's 4 year olds were regular tea drinkers, by the 1990s the proportion had decreased to around a third and recent surveys on national diet don't even consider it a statistic worth noting. Nowadays, apart from milk and water, children get much of their fluid intake via fruit juice, squash and fizzy drinks – all high in sugar content.
The move away from tea as a drink of choice for children has been partly fuelled by the marketing of child specific food and drink. Children see the adverts, try the products and get hooked on the sweet stuff. Another contributing factor has been the worry over exposing children to caffeine. The weak, milky tea we were started on as toddlers was, one would suspect, fairly low on the caffeine count. In fact a study by dietician, Dr. Carrie Ruxton, found that children's attention spans and memory skills improved after a small dose of caffeine, and no adverse physical effects were caused. So let's stop worrying on that count and enjoy a cup of tea all round. And while it's only a part of the solution to the overall challenge it's certainly worth putting the kettle on for!