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Jamie Oliver calls on next Government to reverse significant decline in children’s health

19th Jun 2024 - 07:00
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver
Health and food experts including Jamie Oliver, Gordon Brown, Henry Dimbleby, Michael Marmot and The Food Foundation are calling for the next Government to urgently address the steady decline in children’s health that has been seen in the UK over the last two decades.

A new report from The Food Foundation titled ‘A Generation Neglected: Reversing the decline in children’s health in England’ found the height of five year-olds has been falling since 2013.

The report also found obesity among ten to 11-year-olds has increased 30% since 2006, type 2 diabetes among under 25s has increased 22% in the past five years and babies born today will enjoy a year less of good health compared to babies born a decade ago.

Jamie Oliver, celebrity chef and food campaigner, said: “Decades of Government neglect has meant kids are suffering from more obesity-related illnesses, leading to average heights shrinking and living shorter lives – they’re not being given the chance to be happy, healthy people. And they deserve so much more than that.  

“We need to reverse this trend if we’re to have the healthiest generation of kids, and to do that we need to take a serious look at the food that fuels us. And right now, it’s not pretty. There’s no silver bullet to fix this, which is why we need a comprehensive approach that doesn’t just tinker around the edges but revolutionises the rules and fundamentally improves the quality of food across the board. The leader who understands this and gets serious about child health will be the person who turned the tide on obesity – and won.” 

The findings raise questions regarding the nutritional quality of food that children are eating. The Food Foundation believes that poor diet could be due to a range of factors, from high levels of poverty and deprivation to the aggressive promotion of cheap junk food by the food industry.

Authors and supporters of the report are calling on all political parties to recognise the importance of the food system in shaping our nation and to ensure that every child can access the nutrition needed to grow up healthily, and commit to take urgent action. 

Anna Taylor, executive director at The Food Foundation, added: “The health problems being suffered by the UK’s children due to poor diet are entirely preventable. This is a national embarrassment. We hope this election year will mark a turning point. Politicians across the political spectrum must prioritise policies that give all children access to the nutrition they need to grow up healthily, as should be their right.”

Written by
Edward Waddell