A food buyer has warned that it might be difficult to meet some of the recommendations made in the Commons’ Health Committee report into tackling childhood obesity in England.
According to the Childhood Obesity – brave and bold action report, published yesterday, one fifth of children are overweight or obese when they begin school, rising to one third by the time they leave primary school.
A sugar tax and the implementation of nutritional standards in schools are among the measures outlined in the document.
“We recommend that clear nutritional guidelines should be published, setting out food standards recommended for packed lunches as well as food supplied by schools,” the report stated.
However, Darren Byford, food business manager at YPO, the largest publicly owned buying organisation in the UK, questioned how easy it would be to meet the recommendations.
“As health and education services are currently under significant financial strain, it may prove challenging,” he told SM.
“Delivering high-quality and healthy food options is a clear priority. As public sector buyers we should continue to support schools as they look to deliver the most nutritious meals possible that children will want to eat, within an ever-tightening budget.”
The report also endorsed a recommendation made in Public Health England’s evidence review which called for the adoption, implementation and monitoring of the Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services across the public sector, including national and local government and the NHS to “ensure provision and sale of healthier food and drinks in hospitals and leisure centres.”
Sarah Wollaston, Conservative MP and chairman of the health committee, said the most deprived children were twice as likely to be obese than the least deprived: “This has serious consequences for both their current and future health and wellbeing and we cannot continue to fail these children. There are many causes and no one single or simplistic approach will provide the answer.
“A full package of bold measures is required and should be implemented as soon as possible,” she added. “We believe that a sugary drinks tax should be included in these measures, with all proceeds clearly directed to improving our children’s health.”