New anti-obesity drive launched in Hull schools

Council launches new drive to combat obesity
Council launches new drive to combat obesity
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ONE of Yorkshire’s obesity blackspots is launching a drive to get children and their parents to eat more healthily.

Hull Council is launching a pilot nutrition programme which aims to teach youngsters and adults skills to embed health eating habits into their daily lives.

According to new figures, nearly 20,000 children in Yorkshire and the Humber leave primary school overweight or obese.

Hull and Bradford, along with Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough, have the highest numbers, with 36 per cent of the 10-to-11 age group - 970 children in Hull alone - weigh too much, increasing their risk of heart disease as they grow older.

Nearly three-quarters of the city’s primary schools will be taking part in the three-year project, being delivered by the Soil Association, at a cost of £60,000.

The Whole School Food and Nutrition Programme will involve cooking classes, farm and allotment visits to understand food origins, education around healthy eating and cooking and a focus on increasing fruit and vegetable consumption.

As part of the three-year project, 50 specialist volunteers will be trained to deliver ‘cook and eat’ sessions and 50 training sessions will be delivered to school staff.

Coun Rosie Nicola, portfolio holder for Learning, Skills and Safeguarding Children, said she hoped children would teach their parents skills they’d picked up at school in the same way youngsters taught adults about recycling.

She said: “We seem to have lost the generation of people with the mentality to cook their own food from scratch.”

The latest scheme is one of a number of measures aimed at improving the quality of food eaten by the city’s youngsters.

The cost of dinners for primary schoolchildren was slashed in July 2014 to just 50p. Nearly every primary school offers a breakfast club, while brunch clubs opened in two city primaries, Foredyke and Longhill during October’s half term to ensure children are getting at least one square meal during holidays. In next month’s half-term the programme will be extended to four schools.

Coun Nicola agreed “that we shouldn’t have to be doing this in the 21st century” but said: “We have to take steps as a city council otherwise there are cohorts of children who will not have a level playing field educationally.”

After three years the nutrition programme will be evaluated against a set of targets - including children who don’t have a hot meal having a “nutritionally improved” packed lunch.

Coun Helena Spencer, portfolio holder for Public Health, Prevention and Safeguarding Adults, said: “We aim to get both children and their parents actively participating in sessions where specially trained staff and volunteers teach them how to cook healthy meals, ensuring that good habits learnt in school can be reinforced at home. “

The British Heart Foundation is calling on the Government to ban all junk food TV advertising after revealing that children were being bombarded by junk food adverts during popular shows like the X Factor.

Weak regulation was blamed for adverts for up to four adverts for high-saturated fat and salt pizzas being shown during every 30-minute episode of Hollyoaks, which is sponsored by Domino’s Pizza. Eighteen organisations including the BHF are also calling for a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks.