Encouraging children to eat healthily

Judith Wills / 29 May 2015

Diet and wellbeing blogger Judith Wills takes a look at an initiative designed to get schoolchildren eating more healthily.

Almost immediately after I'd written my last blog and sent it in to Saga, I received a press release from the British Nutrition Foundation about Healthy Eating Week 2015 - a BNF initiative for schoolchildren in the UK.

It's being launched on Monday June 1, and nearly a quarter of schools are taking part with free resources and ideas supplied by the BNF. This year, says the BNF, schools are being set five health challenges to get children thinking about what they eat and its link to their health, and 'to help motivate positive behaviour change' which includes getting more physical activity into their lives.

Now setting aside the fact that the British Nutrition Foundation has sometimes been portrayed in the press as little more than a front for big food companies who make more profit the more they can get people to eat (a bit unfair, in my view) this initiative is obviously a 'good thing'.

As we saw in the last blog, doctors aren't dishing out healthy eating advice to the family and that before long two out of every three of us will be clinically fat. So schools can play a vital role in educating our children to eat healthily and take enough exercise. That's why the BNF is to be applauded for doing something positive to help - even if they are getting promotion for their own organisation. Company sponsorship is, after all, the norm these days.

What is a pity is that Healthy Eating Week is voluntary. A quarter of schoolchildren reached through it is very good - but 100% would be much, much better. So I really hope that Mr Cameron and friends can somehow see their way to making participation compulsory for schools.

The events during the week, including games, challenges and activities, sound like fun and can, I am sure, make a real difference to how children view their diets and their daily routine.

If you have grandchildren - or children of your own - you can visit the website for more information and can maybe adapt some of the ideas - as so many of us are part or even full-time carers for grandchildren this could be a great way to pass some time with them.

It really is vital that we all do something to try to help prevent the impending obesity crisis - it is the schoolchildren of today who will be some of the 50 million or so overweight adults in 2030.

Meanwhile, singer, actress and presenter Elaine Paige has to win this week's award for Most Ridiculous Explanation of Why I Have a Double Chin.

The diva - with whom I once spent an afternoon when she was unknown and very shy - is considering cosmetic surgery to improve the look of her fat neck, which she claims is caused by singing. In fact one of the very best exercises to firm up your jaw and neckline is to open your mouth wide, and roll your tongue around and poke it out (yes, honestly). After 50 years of doing that - or similar, anyway - Ms Paige should have a lovely firm neck profile. I can only assume she has been unlucky.

Ate for lunch:

When we went for a walk and I spotted a swathe of wild garlic under some trees, it was even better than finding Benedict Cumberbatch weeding in my vegetable garden, which I hope for every day. I've never ever seen it around here (the Welsh Marches) before, though I've always kept a lookout. So I picked a few leaves and brought them home (taking some leaves is not illegal but don't dig the plant up), then made a quick leek and wild garlic soup.

You just cut up two large leeks and simmer them in a litre of vegetable stock and milk (half and half) with a potato or two, a chopped onion and a little garlic (or wild garlic) until tender. Put through a blender, check seasoning, then scatter chopped wild garlic and its tiny white flowers over to serve.

I've just ordered some wild garlic bulbs on the internet and so hopefully next year I won't be raiding any wild plants and will be able to get them from my own garden.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.