10 signs reveal health of our food system

Sustain member the Food Foundation release a report on the 10 signs that show the UK’s food system has led the country into a national health crisis.

Chips. Photo credit: Sustain

Chips. Photo credit: Sustain

The Broken Plate report from the Food Foundation shows the ten fatally-flawed cogs in the UK food system which are working to damage our mental and physical health.

  1. 46% of food and drink advertising goes on confectionary, sweet and savoury snacks and soft drinks; while only 2.5% goes on fruit and vegetable.
    Before we even decide what to eat, we’re influenced by mass media.
  2. One in four places to buy food are fast food outlets – the lowest is 7% and the highest is 39%.
    We’re influenced by what’s available in our local area
  3. The poorest 10% of UK households would need to spend 74% of their disposable income on food to meet the Eatwell Guide costs. This is compared to only 6% in the richest 10%.
    When we decide what to buy, we’re influenced by what we can afford.
  4. 17.6% of employees of the food industry earn the minimum wage, compared to 7% of workers across the UK.
    Ironically the people who work in the food industry are typically on very low wages.
  5. Unhealthy foods are three times cheaper than healthy food.
    What we decide to buy is influenced by price.
  6. Half of breakfast cereals marketed to children are high in sugar and for these cereals a single portion would make up a third of a child’s daily allowance.
    Our choices are also influenced by the options available.
  7. Only 14% of ready meals have no meat.
    Many of the meal options available have a heavy impact on the environment.
  8. Obesity among children aged five is 2.2 times greater amongst the most deprived communities compared to the least deprived.
    Not surprisingly this impacts on our health, especially if you’re struggling for money.
  9. Children in deprived communities are more than 1cm shorter on average than children in wealthy communities by the time they reach age 11.
  10. In the last eight years the number of diabetes-related amputations has risen by 25%

The Broken Plate makes recommendations for how to reshape the food system so that healthy diets are affordable, appealing and convenient for all. Preventing marketing unhealthy food to children, supporting public health in the Agriculture Bill, encouraging industry to create healthier products and harnessing the power of public procurement to deliver healthier meals in hospitals, schools and prisons would all help to put the right food on UK tables in order to support rather than harm public health. The report also calls for the Government and businesses to develop a bold vision for tackling the problem, and identifies cross-departmental accountability as crucial to reducing diet-related illness and health inequalities.

Read the full report here.

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