The 15th of May marks the Food Revolution Day, a global campaign initiated by the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation to tackle obesity and educate young children on health and food related matters. ONE is a passionate advocate for child nutrition.
Over the last few decades, obesity has become a major health threat for young children globally. If we fail to act now, the consequences for our children and our society could be devastating. According to the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, it is predicted that children today are the first generation ever who will live shorter lives than their parents due to overweight issues and obesity.
In fact, obesity is a severe health risk and ranks amongst the most dangerous diet-related illnesses in the world. It is estimated that 42 million children under the age of 5 are either overweight or obese worldwide. In Africa, the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity is expected to reach 13% by 2020. In some African countries, such as Mauritius and South Africa, the figures on obesity are similar to those in Western countries. One out of five boys and one out of four girls are overweight in South Africa. It is even worst in Mauritius, where almost one third of children and adolescents between 6 and 19 are considered overweight or obese.
Food Revolution Day brings adolescent health education at the forefront of the health debate. Seemingly, by educating children about food choices, their nutrition value, and how to achieve a healthy diet, it is believed that the increasing number of affected children can come to a halt, in the long run. It goes without saying that starting health education at an early stage will help raise children’s awareness about the importance of incorporating a healthy diet and lifestyle in their everyday lives. If we can manage to show our children the benefits of a balanced diet, we have then taken the first step towards fighting obesity.
The World Health Organization predicts that by 2025 the number of children who are overweight or suffer from obesity will almost double to 70 million worldwide. Even though the vast majority of affected children live in developed countries, the number in African countries increased from 4 to 9 million within the last two decades. Obese children are likely to continuously face health and weight issues throughout childhood, adolescence, and even adulthood. To counter this trend and prevent young children from getting trapped with a lifelong battle with being overweight or obese, a healthy diet is important from an early stage onwards.
There are already a number of countries worldwide that realize the need of rethinking our approach towards food, and subsequently integrated practical food education in their school curricula. In England, Mexico, and Brazil, compulsory programs on cooking lessons and food education in schools have already emerged. In the United States, First Lady Michele Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign educates children and parents about the importance of regular exercise and nutritious eating habits to tackle childhood obesity. There are also programs in Japan and Finland, but more has to be done globally to tackle the negative effects of obesity effectively.
This is why the ONE campaign supports Jamie Oliver’s call on the G20 leaders to take action in the fight against obesity. Send a strong signal to the G20 leaders on Food Revolution Day and secure a healthy and sustainable future for our children. Your voice matters.