MEET THE GLUGS

We all want to give our children the best start in life so that they grow to be happy and healthy. Unfortunately, something is going badly wrong. Every body is talking about a growing epidemic of childhood obesity, ill-health and anti-social behaviour.

The Glugs I am an inventor, in the business of solving problems and I wanted to help. So, I applied inventive thinking to find an innovative solution. I formed a team of like minded creative talents and we consulted the top medical experts who specialise in this area. Repeatedly we learned that dietary habits and relationships with food in the very early years set the patterns for life. There is huge concern in the medical world because the levels of obesity are rising so fast in children today that the issue has been described as a 'time bomb'. As many as 7 per cent of children are already overweight by the time they start school. In addition, the latest medical research shows that how a child behaves in relation to food - impatience, greed, sharing, timidity - reflects how that child behaves in life.

Our children are bombarded with messages from birth. They develop in response and in reaction to those messages. Our society appears to be giving children the wrong messages. Life - and food - is all about instant gratification. Everything is instant. We live in a fast food culture of quick fix. Media pressure on parents perpetuates this; you must keep your child happy all the time. No-one waits for the pleasures of life anymore. Learning to cope with waiting is an important developmental stage but it is being completely missed out of our children’s early years.

This is compounded by a growing ignorance of the origins and seasonality of real food. Cliché as it is, many children don't know that peas come from a pod, not the freezer and that milk isn't made by supermarkets.

Schools are trying to address these dietary and behavioural problems but habits are already formed by the age of five, so leaving it until school age is already too late. Our answer is The Glugs, giving families the help and support they need for babies and pre-school children through entertainment and fun.

The Glugs gently teaches children about teamwork, sharing, patience (a quality much wanting in our quick-fix, instant gratification society); waiting for food to grow and then waiting for food to be cooked, about the sociable aspects of food (eating together at a table rather than in front of the TV), about moderation and exercise. They will remind children to listen to their own bodies (am I hungry or just thirsty? Am I full now?). In summary, the Glugs want to help teach infants how to grow.

The Glugs are a group of animal children who live on an isolated island and who get up to all sorts of escapades as they develop and grow as a healthy community. They have adventures and get up to mischief under the watchful and guiding hand of Eartha, the wise earth worm, who is the Glugs' mother figure. Every story ends with Glugs sitting around the table together to enjoy their meal.

We believe we have got it right - and so do the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health who, in conjunction with the Community Practioners and the Health Visitors Association, are using Glugs materials as part of their national, NHS backed initiative, to help improve the health of our children.

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