Research Inquiry highlights food insecurities among Children


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A report coordinated by the Food Foundation this week has disclosed some of the biggest concerns and issues in regards to tackling the dietary and nutritional problems some young people currently face on a daily basis in the UK.

The workshops which were carried out by charity, Fixers, consisted of interviews with over 300 children ages 11-16 years old from all parts of the country, which aimed to discuss their food insecurities in all daily aspects of their lives. It is the first time that the subjects of a report has been solely young people, which has therefore been able to offer a unique insight into understanding just how complex the issue of living and eating healthy actually is for those among the future generations.

The children highlighted some key challenges regarding school dinners, such as a lack of time at breaks due to long queues and then having little or no time to eat which results in some going without any food at all to sustain them for the afternoon. This may cause alarm considering recent studies have proven the connection between improved academic performance in students when eating healthy.

62% of those interviewed felt that the responsibility to provide nutritious meals lay with their parents. However, for some of the children the burden belongs to them as some are full-time carers, as well as the hectic schedules of parents often prevent them to prepare fresh meals and as a consequence, the children must cook for themselves in order to eat at an appropriate time causing additional pressure.

Advertisements like these are to be targeted by the government

The report also revealed how the constant advertising of fast food chains such as McDonalds, KFC and Dominoes made them want to eat that as opposed to healthier and cheaper options. This is an issue the Scottish Government are trying to address as part of their 10 year strategy which calls for the banning of such TV ads until after the watershed, however, these measures can only be introduced by Westminster, with the consultation of this ongoing. What is also to be addressed is the fact fast food chains advertise on everyday items such as bus tickets which means children are constantly targeted which was also a raised concern.

Other food related adverts had detrimental effects too such as Marks and Spencer which aim to entice the viewer. Parents were said to become “depressed” as these were foods that were difficult to afford on a budget.

Dr. Anna Gryka-McPhail of the Royal College of Physicans’ and Surgeons’ and who is also the Policy Officer for Obesity Action Scotland said,

“Whatever actions we’re suggesting to improve problems in public health and problems with food insecurities especially within children in Scotland, it seems to be quite big and I think the best place to start is to speak to the young people themselves if we are to find solutions that will work. So we very much welcome this report.”

With this report highlighting changes that are needed in the home, education and popular media, this may lead to a new perception of how policy is developed in going forward. The findings of this report are to be discussed at Scottish Parliament next week.





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