A new campaign to improve children’s understanding of the food they eat has been launched after a study revealed that more than a third of 8- to 14-year-olds cannot identify the potato as the main ingredient of a chip.
The British Heart Foundation’s campaign, Food4Thought, aims to get children – and particularly 11- and 12-year-olds – to think about what is in their food and how they can make healthier choices.
A series of posters being put up around the country will reveal the common ingredients of foods popular with children, including cheese burgers, hot dogs and chicken nuggets. Action packs designed as giant crisp packets will also be sent to 600,000 children, and will complement 5,000 teacher packs being sent to secondary schools to get the issue into the classroom.
The charity argues that, with a further 440,000 children in the UK predicted to become overweight or obese in the next two years, poor nutrition among children is a critical issue that requires urgent attention.
Director general Peter Hollins said: “Kids have lost touch with even the most basic foods and no longer understand what they are eating.
“Banning foods or telling children not to eat them is not enough. We must engage children in understanding why certain foods are less healthy than others, and encourage them to become interested in what’s on their plate.”
As well as talking to children, the campaign is also targeting the government, the food industry, local authorities, schools and parents, calling on them to play their part too.
In particular, the BHF wants to see increased availability of nutritious, affordable food, more opportunities for children to learn practical cooking skills and an end to the marketing to children of unhealthy food and drink products.
The call for more cooking lessons echoes that of the School Meals Review Panel, which published its report on the school’s role in helping children to eat more healthily in October.