By Shafiq Kyazze.
After a recent study named Britain the most obese country in western Europe, pressure is mounting on Theresa May’s government to do something about the issue. Campaigners such as Jamie Oliver are calling on the government to clamp down on what they think is junk food as a way of reducing child obesity.
A letter recently written by Jamie Oliver to Theresa May included statements like “An end to ‘buy one get one free’ and other multi-buy junk food offers,” and “Reformation of junk food to reduce sugar, calories and fat”.
The definition of junk food itself isn’t clear and is quite subjective. For example, some people find cheese nutritious while others see it as a food with high salt and calories. In this instance however, it has been felt that ‘junk food’ is simply food the Upper class like Jamie Oliver don’t fancy eating.
The food being referred to as junk is mostly consumed by the poor. A proposal to ban food offers or impose junk food taxes will make food more expensive for the have-nots who are already suffering from low incomes. Such taxes end up taking a higher portion of low incomes than high incomes according to the Centre for Policy Studies.
Jamie Oliver, a renowned chef and restaurateur wrote a letter to Theresa May urging her to deal with child obesity. (Image Source: York Press)
So what should the government do about child obesity? Rather than banning food, children should be taught how to read nutrition labels on foods. “Teach them how to become more objective, and how to evaluate what is healthy and why certain foods are better for you than others,” according to Sara Dimerman, a psychologist in Thornhill, Ontario, who regularly sees children in her practice.
“Tight restriction and banning of certain foods doesn’t mean that a child will choose a healthy alternative,” Dimerman adds. In Ontario, Canada, programs like Farm to School Grants help kids learn about nutrition and participate in growing and cooking their own food.
In Japan, a country with some of the lowest obesity rates, schools have nutritionists and ensure that children are taught about food and lifestyle-related diseases and are encouraged to choose a traditional Japanese meal over fast food. Furthermore, kids at primary school level are encouraged to partake in food preparation process and serve school lunches to their counterparts.
(Image Source: Business Insider)
In Japan, beginning in elementary school, kids come to understand that what you put into your body matters a great deal in how you think and feel throughout the day — and how you go about your life.
In addition to this, children should be taught the benefits of exercising since lack of exercise is twice as likely to lead to death than obesity. Scientists recommend a 20-minute daily walk with a modest increase in exercise leading to health benefits as well as improving health consciousness.
In short, making food dearer doesn’t necessarily make people healthier, but what it definitely does is take more of their money and make them poorer. Nutritional education and exercise is what makes people healthier.
Shafiq is a Chemical engineering student at The University of Manchester. He has a strong background in philosophy and history having been exposed to such issues at a very young age. He has a strong interest in economics, history, politics, philosophy and social issues. Shafiq is also an avid Barcelona fan and is currently a writer for The Common Sense network.