By DAVID WOODING
PARENTS who keep their kids quiet with junk food and computer games have been blasted by a senior Labour MP.
Diane Abbott warned the rise of “McParenting” was putting the life chances of a generation at risk.
The shadow public health minister said children spent too much time eating chips, watching TV or on PlayStation 3.
She urged mums and dads to spend more time with their kids, giving love and healthy food before possessions.
Ms Abbott attempted to reclaim the families agenda for Labour in a major speech today.
She said: “We all know that in 21st Century Britain, families come in all shapes and sizes.
“But what I want to warn about is the rise of what I call McParenting.
“Let me be clear what I mean by this phrase. Parents in Britain, of any class or colour, who substitute materialism for parental responsibility. Children who have PlayStation 3s, chips and locked bedrooms, when they should have fresh air, healthy food and warm family relationships.”
Ms Abbott believes too many people from all walks of life think parenting is about “things” – McDonald’s, tuition fees, video games, rather than engagement.
She told the Policy Exchange think tank: “It’s time we spoke up for family love.
“I want to talk about children who get chicken and chips for dinner from the take-away every evening. About the little boy locked away in his room, surfing the dark corners of the internet. About the father who has never been to the park or swimming pool with his daughter. About the mother who’s default position is to curse her son’s school, ahead of turning the television off at home once in a while.
“It cannot be a good thing that by the age of ten, the average British child recognises nearly 400 brand names.”
Ms Abbott wants action to support families, including legal protection for kids from junk food marketing.
She is also demanding teaching of practical cooking skills in schools, and more opportunities for families to get outdoors.
The MP later added: “I am right behind Jamie Oliver when he argues that this Government is a disaster for the health of British kids. The Government should listen to him.
“The Government’s entire strategy has become an expensive advertising programme for its friends in big business, and it’s just not good enough.
“Responsibility deals that rely on voluntary action by the fast-food business, manufacturers and retailers are failing. You cannot expect big business, which makes billions every year by marketing sugary, fatty and unhealthy foods, to willingly limit its own profiteering.”