On the 10th October 2019, the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies published a report titled “Time to Solve Childhood Obesity”. Caring Cooks have been looking at this report with interest as it chimes with our values and goals. Although the report is written in reference to the UK, the problems faced on the mainland are mirrored here in Jersey. The objective of Caring Cooks is to support, educate, inspire and nourish children, and their families, to give local children the healthiest possible start in life. The report revealed why this is such a crucial task and we feel, lends legitimacy to the ways in which we are tackling the obesity crisis at a local level.
The UK Government has an ambition to half childhood obesity by 2030, and yet currently there are double the amount of overweight and obese children than there were 30 years ago. Today, in a class of 30 children, on average, 10 of those children will be overweight or obese. Something drastic needs to change if we are to turn the tide on this epidemic.
What do we know?
- Childhood obesity disproportionately affects children living in deprived areas and certain ethnic minority groups. In fact, if the current trend continues, 1 in 3 children in the most deprived areas will be obese by 2030 – making this a bigger challenge than ever.
- Children often do not have enough opportunities to be active – to run, cycle, swim and climb.
- Children are exposed to a vast array of unhealthy food and drink choices, larger portion sizes, junk food advertising and shelves full of unhealthy food that is cheaper than fruit and vegetables.
What does this mean for children?
- Many overweight and obese children suffer from type 2 diabetes, asthma, musculoskeletal pain and mental health issues.
- The long term impact is that obesity can be life shortening and can vastly reduce an individual’s quality of life and earning potential.
- The year 2000 saw the first cases of type 2 diabetes in children, which previously had been an adult disease. Children who have type 2 diabetes also suffer a higher incidence of complications.
- Tooth decay is a major problem for children who are exposed to diets high in sugar and processed food. In 2017/18 – 38,385 children underwent a general anaesthetic for dental surgery to extract rotten teeth in the UK.
As well as the personal consequences for individuals, there is an economic consequence to society as a whole. Today’s children are the workforce of tomorrow so it benefits everybody to ensure that they grow up to be healthy and productive in order to ensure a prosperous future for the UK, and of course Jersey.
What can Caring Cooks do about this?
Professor Dame Sally Davies recommends that children spend more time outside in environments that allow them to be active and healthy. We provide this in the form of kitchen gardens in schools which allow children to appreciate the great outdoors and begin to learn the skills they need to grow their own food.
We believe that eating well starts with the ability to be able to cook your own food from scratch. Our Let’s Get Cooking programme gives children the skills to do this and to understand the basic fundamentals of nutrition.
The report also states the importance of providing good nutrition in schools, as children spend so much of their time in educational institutions. Our Flourish programme provides children with the opportunity to eat a healthy meal every lunchtime, if parents wish them to do so.
Caring Cooks are doing as much as our funding will allow but we want to do more. This report highlights the crucial importance of taking action now in order to ensure a healthier and happier future for Jersey’s children. If you would like to support us by volunteering or donating then please get in touch. We are grateful for any help you can offer. If you work for a large organisation then you can help by suggesting that they support Caring Cooks via their CSR policy. There’s lots you can do, speak to us today to find out more.