This week, the Food Research Collaboration released its latest publication,”Within Arm’s Reach: School Neighbourhoods and Young People’s Food Choices”. While much has been said on the subject of healthy school meals, this briefing paperwritten by University of Hertfordshire academics Jan Moorhouse, Wendy Wills and Ariadne Kapetanaki focuses on the food choices available to young people outside of school. Here are some quotes explaining why this issue is an important one:
Tim Lang, Professor of Food Policy, City University London: “When children go to school, one might think that they’d be safe from food pressures. This briefing shows it not be quite true. While the Prime Minister wrestles with what to do about children being targeted by sugary drinks, we suggest that any strategy he comes up with simply must build a safe and healthy food environment for kids. If this was drugs, there’d be a scandal.”
Wendy Wills, University of Hertfordshire: “What food and drink is sold on the high street to young people is a source of concern, in terms of the current public health agenda around obesity and nutrition but simply banning food outlets opening close to schools will not be enough to bring about change. We need a multi-faceted approach that engages retailers as well as young people, schools and parents to create a wholesale shift in expectation about what food and drink is ‘good enough’ for children and teenagers. This briefing paper provides evidence where it is available but shows that the issue of food and drink availability needs a great deal of thought”.
Jan Moorhouse, University of Hertfordshire: “Much as we might wish it to be otherwise, 11-16 year olds will seek out food choices that meet their needs – and health may not always be at the top of their concerns when it comes to making food choices during the school day. It makes sense to help young people make more healthy food and drink choices by making sure that more healthy options are prominent in the choices that are available to them. Our review suggests that we also need to understand what drives young people’s food choices during the school day, that socialising and enjoying food are important to them, so that more healthy food options are not only healthy but attractive too.”
You can read the paper in full on the FRC website; comments are welcome.