Policing pregnancy is bad for babies

By Jennie Bristow.

When pregnant women are told about yet another thing that they should avoid doing in case it compromises the health of their fetus, barely an eyebrow is raised. Smoking? Of course not. Blue cheese? Don’t be daft. A glass of wine? Best not to, just in case. Eating anything at all? Well, if you must – but don’t get greedy now. Remember, being pregnant is no excuse for putting on weight.

So Professor Dame Sally Davies, the UK’s first female chief medical officer, demonstrated her sisterly solidarity just before Christmas by claiming that obesity should be treated as a ‘national risk’ alongside terrorism. Women, in particular, are in the frame; because, the Daily Telegraph reports, ‘rising levels of obesity in pregnancy are jeopardising the health of future generations’.

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Blaming the Baby Boomers does today’s young people no favours

By Jennie Bristow

A recent report by the Ready for Ageing Alliance argues that we should stop assuming that all members of the Baby Boomer generation are healthy, wealthy, and idle, and holding them responsible for everything that is currently wrong with the world. Too right.

One of the nastiest narratives to have developed over the past decade is that of “boomer blaming”, where the alleged good fortunes of the generation born in the 20 years or so after World War II (definitions of the boomer generation vary, often according to what it is being blamed for) are presented as the cause of myriad social problems. Everything from environmental destruction to the problems of the economy, the housing market, the welfare state, youth unemployment and children’s mental health, has been laid at the Boomers’ door. Continue reading

Helicopter or hands-off: today’s parents can’t seem to win

By Jennie Bristow.

Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University in California, has criticised “highly educated parents and academic schools” for producing, in the words of a Sunday Times headline, a “generation of no-copers” who achieve perfect grades in school but “cannot cope with the real world”. Continue reading