Child health experts gathered in Leeds to celebrate inspiring initiatives in children’s food and health, before denouncing the overly sugary produce of Nestle and Kellogg’s
Not all heroes wear capes, but they can speak out in defence of child health as was demonstrated at the first ever Children’s Food Awards this 16 May in Leeds. The awards are being announced at the Children’s Food Summit, coordinated by the Children’s Food Campaign, bringing together national charities, leading campaigners and representatives from public health departments from across the country to celebrate changemakers leading the way in child health, from those working on healthier food advertising policies to local initiatives designed to improve children’s food.
The awards – split into the Yummies and the Yuckies - singled out the heroes and villains in a lively day of celebration that included guest speakers Henry Dimbleby MBE, chef Thomasina Miers OBE and food poverty campaigner Christina Adane.
Henry Dimbleby, former government food tsar and author of the National Food Strategy, generated headlines the previous week for calling out Yucky award winner Nestlé for its misleading nutrition claim in marketing materials for its new KitKat cereal aimed at families. This was then followed by a letter in The Times signed by Sustain, the British Heart Foundation, Obesity Health Alliance and others, accusing Nestlé of “irresponsible” promotion of a product which is a quarter sugar. The letter argued this exposes the failure of the government’s strategy of relying on voluntary action by food companies to help fight obesity.
Presenting the Yucky award for the most misleading “healthy” food claim, Sustain deputy chief executive Ben Reynolds said:
”Nestlé is one of the biggest food manufacturers in the world but has chosen to use its enormous power to make unhealthy products, but market them as if they are healthy. They initially claimed their new KitKat cereal was “nutritious” because of the vitamins they had added to what is essentially confectionery. A 30g serving of this cereal provides almost 30% of the recommended sugar intake for a seven year old (and 40% for a 6 year old). And how many children only eat a 30g portion of this stuff?”
Nestlé has now replaced ‘nutritious’ with the term ’indulgent’ following backlash on social media.
Kellogg’s was also presented with a Yucky award, for the worst children’s food commercial villain. Kellogg’s continues to use child friendly characters on sugary cereals, and also took the Government to court last year to oppose the Government’s legislation to restrict junk food marketing. The Nutrient Profiling Model, used to measure the healthiness of products, which assessed the brands’ famous breakfast cereals as too high in sugar. The company argued that the Nutrient Profiling Model was unfair in not including the addition of milk in assessing the healthiness of breakfast cereals. The High Court ruled comprehensively against Kellogg's claim in July 2022.
In more positive news, The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan won Children’s Food Politician of the Year, former Chief Nutritionist for Public Health England Alison Tedstone, and the youth ambassadors at charity Biteback 2030 were all rewarded with Yummy awards for their outstanding contributions to children’s health.
The full list of award winners, of both Yummies and Yuckies, are as follows:
Yummy award for a Healthier Food Advertising Policy - Barnsley Council
The award recognises Barnsley Council for their determination to champion healthier food and for all their hard work to become the first town in the North of England to bring in advertising restrictions on unhealthy food.
This award is for the 100 plus local authorities and regional governments which restrict unhealthy food advertising, championing child health over corporate profit. While there is now evidence that these robust policies improve rates of diet-related diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, they face intense opposition from commercial corners, and some hefty industry lobbying.
Yummy award for best local initiative improving children’s food - 4theregion’s Gower Field to Fork
This award recognises 4theregion’s ‘Gower Field to Fork’ incredible contribution to transforming the local food system to prioritise children’s food. The project brought together local farms with Bishopston School and food distributor Castell Howell in a ground-breaking series of activities that saw food from the farms being delivered to the school and used to prepare a nutritious meal. Children learned about local food production, sustainability, cooking, marketing, and agriculture.
Yucky award for the worst children’s food commercial villain – Kellogg’s
Kellogg’s continues to use child friendly characters on sugary cereals, and also took the Government to court last year to oppose the Government’s legislation to restrict junk food marketing. The Nutrient Profiling Model, used to measure the healthiness of products, which assessed the brands’ famous breakfast cereals as too high in sugar. The company argued that the Nutrient Profiling Model was unfair in not including the addition of milk in assessing the healthiness of breakfast cereals. The High Court ruled comprehensively against Kellogg's claim in July 2022.
Yummy: Giraffe award for sticking their neck out - Alison Tedstone
This award recognises bold risks that people have taken to defend fiercely children’s right to healthy, sustainable food. Alison Tedstone takes this award for her immense and tireless campaigning for the highest standards on nutrition and incredible leadership in her role as the former Chief Nutritionist for Public Health England, now the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities. With an incredible track record of pushing for change, and always challenging companies and health organisations alike, Alison has always kept her super sharp eyes on the long- term prize of creating a healthier food environment for children. This was never more clear than last year in the High Courts, where the Government, with Alison’s help, comprehensively won the case brought by Kellogg’s.
Yummy award for a political figure championing children’s food - Mayor of London Sadiq Khan
This award recognises Mayor of London Sadiq Khan’s dedication to healthier children’s food. He has established his own Childhood Obesity Taskforce, supported healthy School Superzones and TfL ’s groundbreaking Healthier Food Advertising Policy. He most recently committed £130 million to support free school meals for all primary school children in every borough in London for the 2023/24 academic year, as well as calling on his own party leaders and the Government to commit to a long-term universal meals policy.
Yucky award for the most misleading ‘health’ claim - Nestle’s KitKat cereal
Nestle marketed their new KitKat cereal as “nutritious” however the average bowl of this cereal represents 40% of a six year old’s daily recommended sugar allowance. Nestle have now replaced with the term “indulgent”, thanks to social media furore.
Yummy: Dolly award for being such an asset, the Children’s Food Campaign wishes we could clone them - Catherine Hannafin
The award recognises Catherine Hannafin’s incredibly thoughtful contributions and hard work to implement a healthier food advertising policy in Greenwich, and her continued dedication to supporting local authorities across the country to implement their own.
Yucky award for pester power - PRIME energy drinks
Prime energy are excessively caffeinated drinks that are heavily promoted to young people by Youtubers Logan Paul and KSI. They made $250 million in sales in their first year of trading alone. Despite all of this the drinks company states that it’s not recommended for under 18s, and it’s not hard to understand why. Just last weekend, a primary school student in Newport, Wales, reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest after consuming a can of it. In young people, the high levels of caffeine have been shown to cause numerous problems including: cardiovascular disease, anxiety, mood disturbances, insomnia and bone developmental issues..
Yummy award for Children’s food changemaker - Biteback 2030
In the last five years, Biteback 2030 has brought the voice of young people to policymaking and campaigning, in a way that was virtually absent previously. In the last two years, Biteback have been part of a coalition calling to extend free school meals eligibility, with 800,000 kids from low income families not currently eligible. The work of Harrison, Dev and the other members of the Biteback youth board has provided insight into the lives of young people who have experiences of free school meals, and those that need access, but sadly don’t qualify.
Yummy award for School Food Legend - Myles Bremner
Myles Bremmer is not often in the spotlight but always behind the scenes, bringing his encyclopaedic knowledge, and creativity into the complex world of achieving healthy school food for all. His wisdom and knowledge span local authority school food improvement programmes, to the national school food review coalition, the GLA’s roll out of universal primary free school meals and many of our best campaigning efforts.
Published Tuesday 16 May 2023
Children's Food Campaign: Better food and food teaching for children in schools, and protection of children from junk food marketing are the aims of Sustain's high-profile Children's Food Campaign. We also want clear food labelling that can be understood by everyone, including children.
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