Childhood obesity strategy can be a 'world-first' - says Children's Food Trust

The government's obesity strategy is expected in the new year
26/11/2015 - 12:50
The UK’s child obesity record needs to be turned from ‘a source of international shame to one of pride’, according to the Children’s Food Trust.

The CFT has published a white paper outlining its recommendations for the Government’s forthcoming childhood obesity strategy, expected in the new year.

The Trust calls for a ban on junk food advertising on TV before 9pm, more local public health investment in teaching children and families to cook and making sure funding for free childcare schemes reflects the cost of good food for children.

In the foreword, Adam Starkey, chairman and Linda Cregan, CEO of Children’s Food Trust, write: “The childhood obesity strategy being developed by the Department of Health, for publication early in 2016, can be a world-first.

“To date no country has brought together policy effectively across government at the scale needed here, with the single focus of supporting children to eat well and grow up with a healthy weight.

“We must start by being honest with ourselves, but we must also have the highest expectations of those with influence over food in our society: that they will use every opportunity and mechanism at their disposal to make healthier choices the easiest choices for children and those who care for them.”

The paper is split into four key areas: children’s food at home, in childcare, at school and in the wider world beyond.

Its recommendations for school food include the following:

  1. Require that all schools, without exception, meet national standards for school food. Evidence shows that it is regulation which has greatly improved the food children eat at school, where voluntary guidelines saw it deteriorate.
  2. Use the free meals for all infants scheme to measure the impact of universal school food for children’s public health.
  3. Evaluate how well schools are doing at providing good food for children, and use school meal take up as a proxy measure for children’s health as part of the revised Public Health Outcomes Framework.
  4. Give schools the time, incentive, finance and support to continue improving school meals, including ongoing investment in better kitchens and dining rooms.
  5. Ensure that our free school meals system supports children living in poverty all year round: given that our poorest children are statistically most likely to be obese we need to use every possible route to help them eat well, even when school’s out.

The white paper comes on the same day that the National Child Measurement Programme has released data from 2014/15 detailing the number of children starting school obese has fallen to 9.1% but a third of children are leaving primary school obese.

To read the Children's Food Trust full white paper, Child Obesity: Their lives in our hands, click here.

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