There is no doubt that the rise of sugar intake within children of the UK is rising to dangerous levels. Getting the message into parents and children and having them act upon it, is another matter entirely. According to reports out today, there are some children who are consuming their bodyweight in sugar each year. That is something I can truly believe.
Public Health England has today launched an app, to help parents understand the amount of sugar within the food that children consume. Whilst I applaud every effort being made to help tackle what will be a diabetes, heart and obesity epidemic in the future, my reservations are that the app will only be used by those parents who actually give a hoot and those kids who really need the help will be none the wiser.
I have often found that the children with the highest levels of sugar intake can come from poorer backgrounds. Put simply, their parents put what food they can on the table, with the budget they have and most of these parents have very little skill when it comes to cooking nutritional meals cheap. Although I have found that parents will engage in cookery classes and sort of enjoy the healthy food option; my experience has taught me that they do then no apply it back home but go back to their previous eating habits. This is the problem, and this is what needs to change!
So how do you tackle a mammoth task of getting parents to engage with this app and starting to eat healthier? First of all drop the cute fluffy adverts and create something more hard-hitting. Start showing clips of children having their teeth removed, having needles stuck in them for diabetes and struggling to get out their homes for obesity, and you might just get somewhere. People hate being shown the reality, but sadly that is what makes them act!
The second thing I would do is put more emphasis on food education lessons on the curriculum. This has to start in primary schoo,l but even though my son attends a very good secondary school, they do not do cookery or nutrition lessons…. Instead he’s taught sewing, which is all well and good, but I would rather he is given a life skill, which has the ability to alter his life and that of future generations.
So although the app is fabulous for the more educated and concerned parents, this will do absolutely jack for those parents who are not bothered and do not care.