Today (Tuesday 1 May 2018) the Health Select Committee has opened the first oral evidence session in its inquiry on government progress against the Childhood Obesity Plan. Jamie Oliver and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall both joined the session, sharing insights they have gained from their extensive campaigning work highlighting the childhood obesity epidemic.
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall referenced the work of the Soil Association's Out to Lunch Campaign extensively, highlighting the campaign's efforts to tackle the food served to our children in our high street restaurants. He commented:
"What we are looking for is a bigger sense of corporate responsibility. A bigger ambition to do the right thing on the part of big business. Perhaps there’s too much feeling that these kinds of actions are only ever going to hurt big businesses But if you think about it in the long term, why would a business suffer from being seen to be looking after the health of its customers over the long term? We’ve seen this in a great piece of work pioneered by the Soil Association called the Out to Lunch campaign which is featured in tomorrow night’s [Britain's Fat Fight] show.
"They take twenty five of the biggest known, biggest named high-street restaurant brands and they create a league table. Who’s at the top, who’s at the bottom in terms of healthy offerings, particularly for kids.
You can watch the Out to Lunch reference in the Health Select Committee debate here (from 16.24 minutes)
Five Food for Life priorities for the Health Select Committee inquiry:
With Britain currently the most obese country in Europe and with child obesity still on the rise (with one in three leaving primary school overweight or obese) we believe that do date, government action has fallen short of what is needed to address our nation’s health crisis.
As the oral enquiry opens, Food for Life is supporting Sustain and the Children's Food Campaign, calling the Government to prove they do have the political will to reverse childhood obesity as they pledged in their Childhood Obesity Plan over a year ago.
1. Stop raiding prevention budgets: reverse public health cuts that threaten school food programmes like Food for Life that are proven to improve children’s diets.
2. Ensure every Ofsted report rates schools on school food and pupil health and wellbeing – the Government’s promised Healthy Rating Scheme to enable this is over a year late and may never materialise.
3. Make the newly revised Voluntary Food and Drink Guidelines for Early Years Settings mandatory and give every nursery, children’s centre and childminder access to training so they have a chance of meeting them. They’re currently gathering virtual dust on a Government website.
4. Introduce strong controls on junk food price promotions in supermarkets and other high street stores like WHSmith’s.
5. Ensure the NHS practises what it preaches: announce that every hospital will be a beacon of good food by 2020.
A final plea to all obesity campaigners
Let’s not just talk calories, fat and sugar. We all – and children in particular - need nourishment, not just a healthy weight. What we do eat counts as much as what we don’t, for both our mental and physical health, so let’s not pretend that diet drinks and no-sugar chewing gum represent any kind of answer. The UK already eats four times more processed food than fresh. Let’s leave space for policies that help us rediscover the joy of real, fresh, unprocessed food, eaten around a table together.