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C.U.C Research DossierEdit

Introduction to the issue:Edit

When we look around we see the number of overweight children in Britain who are growing up in a nation around fast food places. According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the rate of childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years. There is no doubt that junk food is one of the main culprits for this obesity epidemic. We want to improve the lives of children at a young age in order to ensure that they have a healthy future. It is in the hands of our society and us to make an active change for the upcoming generation of today. This is so Britain can be represented in a better light as we care about this country. And why shouldn’t people support us, especially parents? No parent would like to see a future picture of their overweighed child, because given the risen numbers of obesity that occur to children, now every child has more than 30 per cent chances to end up in the overweighed department due to eating in fast foods. Besides the fact that the number of fast foods is getting out of control, opening one after another and one next to another, they should at least try not to give any fast food products to children in uniforms. This way we hope to make the children more eager to get home and have a home-made dinner which is healthier. The food which is usually served in school cantines is- without a shadow of a doubt- a much healthier option for children, and if we could prevent them from going out of school gates during breaks ( while wearing their uniforms)to purchase an unhealthy snack at the nearest kebeb- shop, then it would be more likely they eat what is served at school. And we strongly believe that this would be a big step in the right direction.

Key facts:Edit

What is Obesity?

Obesity can be defined as carrying substantially more bodyweight than is considered healthy for somebody's height. This can be determined by using a mathematical formula called Body Mass Index (BMI) which takes into account both weight and height.

According to the NHS in Enfield: Obesity was identified as a significant risk to good health and wellbeing and consumes very significant amounts of NHS spend( obesity and overweight currently costs PCT 75.7 million pounds a year). The data shows that Enfield has the 3rd highest prevalence of obese people in London( 27%). Obesity levels among Enfield's young people are a particular concern with 37.6% of Enfield's young children in year 6 and 24.8% in reception year being overweight or obese.

Currently 11.8% of reception pupils are overweight and 13% are obese. 15.1% are overweight in year 6, with 22.5% being obese. NI 56 (Obesity in year 6) is a Local Area Agreement Priority Target.

Our independent reaserch that we've done within Southgate area shows that there are as many as 10-12 fast food places concentrated around Southgate station where most of the children get a bus or a tube on the way home. The availability and ridiculously low prices in those takeaways are a massive incentive for any child while waiting for a bus and feeling a bit peckish.


In a recent large-scale survery of the UK statistics shockingly revealed that 25% of boys and 33% of girls between 2 and 19 are overweight or obese. That is a quarter of boys and a third of girls. (Weight Loss Resources)

What's worse is that a study carried out by the Pennisula Medical School in Plymouth found that:

  • three quarters of parents failed to recognise their child was overweight.
  • 33 percent of mums and 57 percent of dads considered their child’s weight to be ‘about right’ when, in fact, they were obese.
  • one in ten parents expressed some concern about their child being underweight when they were actually a normal, healthy weight. (Weight Loss Resources)

The UK is currently in a state where cuts are being made to reduce a large debt but the very real figure is that obesity currently costs the UK about £2 billion annualy and shortens lives by about 9 years. (Weight Loss Resources)

These numbers are extraordinarily high and by allowing our children to get to these levels we are putting them at risk to such things as: bullying; joint problems; high cholesterol levels; high blood pressure; diabetes; cancers and heart disease. We don't want to see anyone with these problems particularly children and we think it is about time the government began to act and to give a good argument why, it is because children are our future.

An article on BBC News shows that Parents do not recognise obesity in their children . It shows that parents do not now their children are overweight as a Nationa Opinion Poll involving over 1,000 parents of children aged four to seven showed that only 14% of those with an obese child considered that their child was overweight. In 2005, the National Child Measurement Programme was introduced in primary schools. The programme was introduced to monitor the epidemic in childhood obesity, by weighing and measuring all children as they start primary school. In many areas, parents receive a letter to let them know the outcome and how healthy their child's weight is.

Harmful Effects of Junk Food:

If ingredients make junk foods appealing , it is the same reason that makes them health hazardous too. The fat contents, barring a few manufacturers,have high cholesterol levels. Secondly, the sugar and sodium levels have their effects on health.High calorie content with sugar can lead to obesity.Cholesterol and salt are known to setoff blood pressure and heart diseases, excessive salts can affect functioning of kidneys.

Here are some Junk Foods Facts that help to understand the harmful effects of eating them on young children-some of those effects are long term while others are short-term ( in both cases these effects are a great danger and shouldn't be ignored)

Short-term effects:Edit

  • Lack of energy
  • Poor Concentration
  • Psychosocial effects

Lack of energy; adverse effect resulting from eating junk foods, especially damaging for school-children who need to be active and need energy completing their every-day tasks at school.As junk food don't provide them with essential nutrients, even though it can be very much sufficing, they feel weakened.

Poor concentration; when a child has a sumptuous junk meal rich in oil it makes him feel drowsy and fail to concentrate. Concentration is, as we all know, one of the main factors that our children need in order to make progress and achieve success at school. Over sustained periods of junk food consumption , blood circulation drops due to fat accumulation. Lack of vital oxygen, nutrients and proteins particularly can stale grey( brain) cells temporarily.

Psychosocial effects; an obese child may feel singled out by his or her peers and teased. This can lead to a significant impact on his/her self esteem and may even cause considerable anxiety and even depression. This can be reflected in their school performance being poor, behavior problems or rejecting themselves and being anti-social. These problems can follow a child into adulthood.

Long-term effects:Edit

Children we are obese have a greater risk of developing the following;

  • Heart Diseases
  • High Cholesterol
  • Type 2 diabetes

Heart diseases; junk food diet is a major cause of heart diseases. Myocardial infarction( a severe heart failure) is due to plaque formation in arteries which demands heart to put in extra effort to pump blood on the down stream. On the up stream, there is lack of returning blood to heart. This causes two damages to heart- heart fatiques by the continuous extra effort it makes and it suffers oxygen supply.

High Cholesterol; apart from forming plaques and constricting arteries, cholesterol also affects liver where it is metabolized. High cholesterol from junk food and diet strains liver, damaging it eventually.

Type 2 diabetes; which was mostly seen in adults but is now being diagnosed in children. Children eating fast foods frequently may face an increased risk of developing insulin resistance as well.

Study finds that pupils going out of school gates for takeaways are eating excessive amounts of salt and fat-even though school meals are getting healthier. The data shows that takeaway meals sold near schools could contain over one and a half times more salt and three times more saturated fat than an adult's maximum recommendation for a day! The reaserch, carried out by London environmental health food teams on behalf of CONSENSUS ACTION on SALT and HEALTH (CASH) quantifies for the first time the food danger for teenagers and younger children hidden just outside the school gates. It's an issue even for those schools which do not allow their pupils off site during the day- many of the takeaways open up as the school gates do.

In the largest study of its kind, environmental health observers in 16 London boroughs observed secondary school pupils as they waited in long queues to buy chips, deep-fried sausages and pies. The officers then bought portions of the 73 dishes that were most popular with the children and had them nutritionally analysed. Most were unhealthy, some of them alarmingly so. 54 of the 73 meals contained more salt than is allowed under the nutrient-based standards that control the quality of school meals and some had as much as 7.4g- more than the 6g daily recommended maximum for anyone aged 11or over specified by the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Some contained much more salt, fat or saturated fat than comparable dishes produced by high street food chains such as McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Subway. A meal bought at a chicken shop in south-west London contained 22.1 g of saturated fat- the equivalent of five-and-a-half McDonald's " McChicken nuggets and large fries".

Improved dietery effects:Edit

Many schools have reported improvements in children's ability to learn following healthy eating schemes. Wolsey Junior School and Whitehorse Manor School in south London noted significant improvements in academic results following bans on junk food.

The reaserch by the School Food Trust has found that secondary schools have, on average, 23 junk food outlets in their neighbourhoods, with some surrounded by 46(!!!). Separate reaserch by London Metropolitan University involving 631 pupils at two secondary schools discovered that youngsters were visiting local takeaways more than twice a day. They told reaserchers they could buy a whole pie for as little as 1 pound outside school, while inside meals could cost them 2 pounds.

Who else is involved:Edit

The government have recognised this as a problem as you can see by programmes such as 'The National Child Measurement Programme' and the government backing of the NHS' 'Change4Life' programme.

In the UK there are other groups aiming to make a change to the way children eat. Jamie Oliver is possibly the most famous and when we visited primary schools to study how children were eating we noticed that he had definately made a difference; as we took out research into a local school in Enfield and found almost no fault in the menu's served to the children.

The Feed Me Better Campaign happend during 2005 when Jamie signed up as a dinner lady at a school in Greenwich Kidbrooke. Before this he had done Jamie's Kitchen and felt motivated by the poor state of school dinners in UK schools and decided to take action. His main aim was to get rid of junk food and expose the rubbish children were being fed at the school and the how little the government was spending. He had to do this by showing that the same price a bag of crips could be brought for, which is just 37p, that he could cook a properly cooked, nutritious meal at lunchtime. The problems he faced were, children were eating a quarter of a ton of chips every week and the dinner ladies had become unmotivated by the food they were serving. To meet his aiim Jamie had to make sure set menus were set, so that 15,000 school children acroos Greenwich, for the same price in order to show the goverment it could be done.

Jamie had five important factors that he wanted to achieve which were to;

  • Gurantee that children receieve a proper, nuritonally balanced meal on their plates
  • Introduce nutritional standards and ban junk for school meals
  • Invest in dinner ladies, by giving tehem better kitchens, more hours and loads of support with cooking training.
  • To teach children about food and get cookery back on the curriculum.
  • Commit long-term funding to improve school food.

After a week Jaime had 25,000 signature on his petition form and with over 5million people who were watching his programme. His campaign after 4 weeks had over 270,000 signatures on a web petition. In which he used to take to the Prime Minister (Tony Blair) which got Jamie the £280 million pleged in order to improve school meals. How the feed me better campaign happend

Although on the 4th of September 2006, the government introduced in schools cooking lessons that we’re meant to help children develop cooking skills both healthy and useful, making cakes and Spaghetti Bolognese aren’t the healthiest recipes. We support Jamie’s Campaigns like Feed Me Better (2003), Jamie’s Ministry of Food (2008) and Jamie’s Food Revolution to continue and extend the benefits that their bringing and proving that everything you eat is important.

We are aware however that we will be asking a lot because the government will not want to be seen damaging local business' especially when we take in to consideration David Cameron's Big Society. Despite their own recognition that this is an issue, as stated earlier.

Takeaways Face £1,000 Fat Taxwhich shows anybody who wants to open up a keebab shop, chip shop, McDonald's would be charged with a one-off fee by their council. The cash would be used to fund healthy eating campaigns and little-picking. Beatrice Brooke, of the British Heart Foundation said: 'Obesity is a major risk factor for heart disease, which sadly remains the Uk's single biggest killer.'

Also as this is a prime time for junk food sales, the local business' themselves that make a fair deal from selling the food to children and teens will dead set against the chance we could cause damage to their business and funds.

In 2008, Waltham Forest council, East London, planned to ban new takeaways opening within 400 metres of schools, youth centres and parks to help combat child obesity and promote healthy eating. The council also wanted to bring in new planning rules to limit the number of fast food outlets in shopping parades and restrict their opening hours.

How could change happen:Edit

There are many different people that could help effect change to our campaign such as;

  • Local schools
  • Fast food businesses
  • The local council or MP
  • Parents of children.

We can put pressure onto local schools by making them see that children in uniform are representatives of their school therefore they should support our campaign in order to prevent obesity. We can put pressure onto fast food businesses by demonstrating in their business by ordering healthy food only and not moving from this place. We can put pressure onto the local council by making them see the health of children may be controlled in schools but is causing children to bunk and go after school in their uniforms to fast food places. The methods that would be best bring this about is by carrying out primary research such as observations on the amount children who eat in fast food places in that area during and after schools. A petition to stop children bunking during school hours to go to fast food places directed at parents and the comminuty which can be sent to the local council or MP. An assemebly to create awareness in a local school with demonstration that fast food places will lead to health problems in their adults lives. We believe that getting parents involved and convincing them to support our campaign and sign our petition shouldn't be much of a struggle as our idea is obviously highly beneficial for their own children's health and welfare.

To return:Edit

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