Cooking classes in schools to reduce childhood obesity | United Kingdom | news – Advice Eating

Learning… cooking classes (Image: GETTY)

A classroom “revolution” will equip tens of thousands with the simple tools they need to prepare delicious meals in minutes.

It comes after growing concerns about the dangerous health condition of children, with 41 percent of 10- and 11-year-olds being overweight or obese.

Education Secretary Will Quince, who lost more than 6th place during the lockdown, said: “Learning the basics from an early age helps promote a nutritious diet and a healthier lifestyle with exercise and activity.

“Yet too many young people leave school without the skills to cook and live healthy.”

Home economics used to be an integral part of the curriculum, but today basic cooking skills are rarely taught in schools.

In response, the government is providing £5million to start a ‘cooking revolution’ providing expert content and bursaries for teacher training.

The idea will be piloted at a handful of schools and academies later this year.

Alarmingly... 41 percent of 10 and 11 year olds are overweight or obese

Alarmingly… 41 percent of 10 and 11 year olds are overweight or obese (Image: GETTY)

In the long term, every child will leave secondary school with at least six basic recipes that support healthy living into adulthood.

Simple and flavorful dishes include turkey katsu curry, slow-cooked stews, chickpea burgers and spaghetti bolognese.

All can be prepared in minutes using household staples and cheap ingredients, loaded with fresh veggies, and stored or frozen for multiple meals.

The plans have the support of Dr. David Unwin, a health food expert and general practitioner.

He said: “We now have a situation where 41 per cent of young children are overweight. Their future is fatty liver disease and diabetes.

“That means only 60 percent are of normal weight, and that’s insane.

“No matter how much money we put into the NHS it will never be enough to meet demand from poor public health and we are completely asleep at the wheel.”

Worrying... The cost of living crisis is compounding the problem

Worrying… The cost of living crisis is compounding the problem (Image: GETTY)

Timing is crucial as no household is immune to the deepening cost of living crisis.

No age group is immune to the growing obesity crisis, but medical professionals are appalled that the National Child Measurement Program shows that 41 percent – roughly 800,000 10- and 11-year-olds – were overweight or obese in 2020-21. That’s an increase from 31.6 inches in 2006-7. About 6.3 percent were severely obese.

New laws from October will limit offers for foods high in fat, sugar and salt, forcing stores to phase out offers, banning promotions for unhealthy foods and stopping gimmicks like free refills on sugary soft drinks.

The crackdown will also block unhealthy buy-one-get-one-free offers and ban junk food ads on TV before 9 p.m.

Millions of us remain baffled by conflicting health messages and eat foods that we think are healthy but are actually causing significant harm.

Few know that a bowl of the average breakfast cereal can contain eight teaspoons of sugar.

Official NHS guidelines still say meals should be based around potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, despite mounting evidence that they can do more harm than good.

Obesity-related type 2 diabetes is now one of the fastest growing health emergencies in the UK, costing the NHS £15billion a year.

Four million people are affected by the disease, with that number set to rise to 5.5 million by 2030.

At least another million have the disease but have yet to be diagnosed, while 12.5 million are at increased risk due to chronic unhealthy lifestyles.

Now, one in 20 cancer cases is caused by obesity with fat, which has been linked to 13 different types of the deadly disease.

The first International Food Addiction Conference will be held in Bristol later this month.

COMMENT FROM WILL QUINCE

Britain has rediscovered its love for an essential life skill: cooking. Research has found that nearly three quarters of us have enjoyed being in the kitchen during the pandemic.

But cooking shouldn’t be a skill reserved for adults. Learning the basics from an early age will help children adopt a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Unfortunately, there is a growing problem of childhood obesity in our country. Almost 15 percent of admission-age children are obese. For 10- to 11-year-olds, that number rises to 25 percent.

We have to take action. This is important not only because obese children have poorer health, but also because many are bullied by their peers, often with devastating consequences for their mental well-being.

This government has already ensured that the importance of good nutrition is taught in schools across a range of compulsory subjects, including science and health education.

Voted by nearly 50,000 students this year, our new GCSE in Food Preparation and Nutrition teaches students the benefits of a balanced diet while providing hands-on cooking experience.

Outside of school, our Holiday Activities and Meals program provides thousands of children with healthy meals and educates them about nutrition and exercise.

And in our recent Leveling Up white paper, we set out plans to invest £5m to start a school kitchen revolution, including developing new curriculum content and providing bursaries for teacher training.

Taken together, our plans give kids the tools they need to eat well. This gives them the best chance to learn and develop – from childhood to adulthood.

  • Will Quince is Secretary of Education

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