We must do more to help children eat healthily, says LBL Changemaker

In recent weeks my colleague Diogenes has been blogging about the newly published National Food Strategy and its call for an urgent overhaul of the whole way we think about food — everything from how we produce and distribute it to what we eat. Only this week a study has shown that one in three middle-aged people have multiple chronic health issues, often lifestyle-related. Diet and health are not just problems affecting the UK, of course. We are all aware of the problems of food insecurity and malnutrition around the world: nearly one billion people do not have enough of the food they need to live an active, healthy life. At the same time worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975 and, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.

The WHO statistics on obesity are staggering:

  • In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight. Of these more than 650 million were obese
  • 39% of adults were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese
  • 39 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2020
  • More than 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016

The WHO points to two factors driving this worldwide trend:

  • an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars
  • an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization

It ends its list of statistics with the words ‘Obesity is preventable’.

Key to improvement, as the National Food Strategy identifies, is education — giving people the knowledge, skills and support to enable them to live healthier lives, particularly eating more healthily. That includes educating children from a young age. As we noted in our blog Involving children in preparing healthy meals makes learning fun, five of the National Food Strategy’s 14 recommendations focus specifically on children. We argued that involving children in planning and preparing healthy meals “is a great way to encourage them to think about healthy eating and makes learning fun and memorable.”

Neena Arakal Mathew has recently published a blog called Developing healthy eating habits in kids. As well as discussing why so many of us settle for unhealthy diets, Neena’s blog mixes thought-provoking questions with practical tips to help improve children’s food habits.

She ends her blog:

These are practical tips that we need to take to improve the food habits of our kids. It’s ok if you don’t agree with some. Please post your comments, ideas and ways of reaching a vision of healthy active kids. As Helen Keller says, ‘Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.’ Let’s do more.

Neena Arakal Mathew, Developing healthy eating habits in kids

Together we can do so much. I very much agree.

The aims and principles of Life-Based Learning are relevant not just to one country or one part of the world but to people across the globe because LBL is about life itself. Neena has picked up on one of our recent posts about the need to eat healthily and elaborated on it from the perspective of her life in Delhi, India.

It is remarkable just how much of what she says resonates with the same struggles to keep healthy that we face in the UK. As organisations such as the United Nations and the WHO continually remind us, keeping fit and healthy is a struggle that affects people across the globe.

Neena is one of our Changemakers, someone who is actively involved in working at the cutting edge of children’s learning and development, someone whose aims, interests and values resonate with those of Life-Based Learning.

Are you a changemaker? Are you passionate about wanting to build a better future for our children? Why not contribute a ‘guest’ blogpost to our website, setting out your ideas on the changes that you would like to see? We would love to hear from you.

Read More about Diet and Healthy Eating

Image at the head of this article by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

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