6th March 2018

Not so much 'put Britain on a diet' as 'make sure Britain’s children learn to enjoy the right food'...

Public Health England have said that Britain needs to go on a diet and today I’ve been listening to media coverage asking what do we, as a nation, need to do to help reduce the child obesity problem.

We know that obesity related diseases cost the NHS over £5 billion each year and Public Health England believe this is because we are simply eating too many calories, leading to weight gain, which in turn leads to obesity. Looking at the evidence, that is hard to dispute - but what I would like to see is a more positive take on how we help families on a low income to understand and appreciate the good feeling of good food and to get PHE support for the work of Magic Breakfast, which in itself, in my view, is a powerful obesity prevention measure, helping children to enjoy a healthy low-sugar, low-salt, low-fat breakfast.

With great help from our friends Quaker Oats, Bagel Nash, Tropicana and Tesco we are, I hope, persuading tens of thousands of children that they will feel better and have more success in the classroom if they eat the right breakfast as fuel for their young bodies. We know that for healthy development children need to access the right mix of protein, vitamins, carbohydrates and, yes, good fats, but we know that at least half a million children go to school too hungry or malnourished to learn.

Hunger and obesity have been described as two sides of the same poor diet coin. I would love Public Health England to join with Magic Breakfast in presenting a 'fuel for learning' agenda, positively encouraging each child to have a nourishing and delicious breakfast.

The talk of diet slightly worries me - I’d much rather we were saying to every child, "take care of yourself, your body and brain need the very best nutrition you can find". So rather than sweets on the way to school get to a Magic Breakfast club and have something nourishing instead.

Over the past more-than-a-decade of working with schools, time and time again we’ve heard how wonderful teachers have helped children to reduce their sugar intake and learn to enjoy fruit instead of sweets and learn to drink water instead of fizzy drinks. Then sometimes the child suggests the same at home and it can help to change the way a whole family eats. That’s magic!

We believe that the small, positive changes a child learns to make to his or her diet at an early stage can have an enormous significance on their whole life. At Magic Breakfast we are passionate about the link between a child enjoying healthy, delicious food and their future success. We would warmly welcome collaboration with Public Health England and with health professionals who, like us, believe that we have to take action now to make sure children are not risking their future health and well-being because of too much of the wrong food.

Photo by Sophia Spring: Carmel McConnell MBE, Founder of Magic Breakfast

Link to BBC article reporting on Public Health England's drive to get British people to eat more healthily.