The Children's Nutrition Action Plan resulted from a roundtable seminar of children's health experts, convened in 2001 to review what policies would be needed to control the rising epidemics of diet-related disease prevalent in the UK and other wealthy countries. The report focuses on improving children's health and diets, as a key way of preventing unnecessary and debilitating diseases caused by consumption of unhealthy foods.
The Children's Nutrition Action Plan resulted from a roundtable seminar of children's health experts, convened in 2001 to review what policies would be needed to control the rising epidemics of diet-related disease prevalent in the UK and worldwide.
When this report was published in 2001, there was mounting concern over European rates of heart disease and cancer, and rising incidence of obesity. The World Health Organisation’s nutrition office for the European Region had launched a four-year Food and Nutrition Action Plan which considered some of the issues looked at in this document. The UK Department of Health had launched a series of policy documents on public health policy which included food, diet and nutrition concerns. Also, the recently launched UK Food Standards Agency was also developing a nutrition policy.
Children’s food is a key element of food policies for several good reasons. For a start, what children eat not only affects their health at the time, but will make a significant difference to their later health. For instance, after around the age of four, children who are overweight are increasingly likely to be overweight or obese as adults. Before they reach their teens, children can show the first signs of cardiovascular disease in the tissues of their arterial walls. By this age, girls have already begun to lay down the nutritional base for their future pregnancies, which in turn will affect the foetus and long-term health of their children. Nutrition in childhood is therefore of importance for public health and the costs to our health services for years to come.
Children are less able to make decisions about their own best interests than are well-informed adults. The regulation of people’s free choice about the foods they eat is often attacked as ‘nannyism’ but this fails to apply when it comes to children. We acknowledge the need to protect children through social controls – we ban the advertising of alcohol and tobacco to children, and we prohibit children from buying drink and cigarettes until they are considered old enough to know what they are doing. But with food, society has been less assertive and has allowed the free-choice and free-market arguments to prevail.
This state of affairs is doing our children no good. The Children's Nutrition Action Plan reviews some of the main issues that concern children’s food and nutrition, and looks at possible interventions or targets that might be constructed, to help us protect children’s health in the future and improve what children are eating.
The Chidren's Nutrition Action Plan was coordinated by the Food Commission, the UK’s leading consumer watchdog on food issues. Sustain contributed to the Children's Nutrition Action Plan consultation process, and now looks after the Food Commission publications archive.
Part 1 Children’s Nutrition
Part 2 Targets and Interventions
Contributions from expert witnesses
Issues, targets and interventions
1. Nutrition for babies and pre-school children
2. Nutrition in school-age children
3. Food manufacturing, retailing and marketing
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