It seems modern life is slowly killing us. We do less exercise, we eat convenient ready meals and we drive everywhere we can.
The Foresight report on obesity out today is quite disturbing. To think that 60% of men, 50% of women and a quarter of children and young people would be obese by 2050 unless we start to do something now. And that’s before you add up the estimated £45 billion a year it’ll cost Britain.
That’s why it’s so important to teach children healthy eating habits as young as possible. All the research shows that inactive children who eat unhealthy foods do not develop into active healthy adults.
Bringing back practical cookery lessons into our schools, educating children about nutrition and a ban on junk food advertising before the 9pm watershed will all help.
But we had the best answer all along – universal free school meals for every primary school pupil.
Two thirds of pupils claimed the free healthy meals and this would have only grown higher if the Lib Dems hadn’t shamelessly scrapped them. In Sweden and Finland, where healthy school meals are free, take up is now between 85% and 95% – in Hull it’s dropped to a third. The University of Hull study found that better nutritional intake improved concentration and readiness to learn so it’s a no brainer that we should do everything we can to encourage our kids to eat healthy food.
So how about this – we currently have £107 million from the last tranche of KC shares sitting in the bank doing nothing, other than earning a very healthy £7m a year in interest.
Universal Free School Meals cost £3m a year so why don’t we ring fence that and make it our yearly health dividend for our kids.
They’ll develop healthy eating habits that will last them a life time, they’ll do better at school and we’ll save money by stopping them becoming obese.
It’s food for thought.