Soon the whole country will be taking part in a giant Easter Egg hunt. A collective response to a marketing campaign that has replaced the reason for Easter with a chocolate egg fest.
The chocolate manufacturers all collude in this sugar frenzy and the children who will receive an average of four Easter eggs each will achieve levels of hyper activity guaranteed by the 24 spoons of sugar in each average egg.
Oh you spoil sport , it’s just once a year. That was maybe true when I was a child. We looked forward, though were not guaranteed, one Easter Egg on Easter Sunday after having given up sweets for the 40 days of Lent.
Nowadays, there is less of the Lenten fast and more of the child obesity. The statistics are scary with almost a quarter of British children overweight by the time they start Primary School and while obesity is highest among older children, around 11.2% of 4 -5 year olds are obese with a 40 to 70% chance they will become obese adults. Diet related ill health costs the NHS £5.8 billion every year with childhood obesity related illnesses such as asthma in England costing £51 million per year.
Chocolate advertisers are part of the problem, creating and selling confectionary which has led to us becoming addicted to sugar. Interestingly, last July the Government implemented a ban on online advertising of foods high in fat, salt and sugar aimed at children including stopping characters and celebrities popular with children to advertise unhealthy options. This was a positive step especially as research from Ofcom found that children aged from five to 15 spend around 15 hours a week online – overtaking the time spent watching TV for the first time. However, there is much more to do given the annual £143 million spent by the top18 companies promoting crisps, confectionary and sugary drinks. Coca Cola and Cadburys are right at the top, this is in stark relief to the £5.2 million that the Government spends on its anti-obesity Change4Life social marketing campaign.
The Mayor of London has recently appointed Paul Lindley from Ella’s Kitchen to lead the child obesity taskforce. He will be joined by Professor Corinna Hawkes. This is welcome as London has the highest obesity rates than comparable cities such as New York, Paris, Sydney or Madrid. He promises to respond with ideas, momentum, expertise and leadership to reimagine what is possible to create change to ensure London becomes somewhere all children grow up healthier.
Congratulations Paul, I hope you will work with us at LEYF Link to support our range of early years initiatives from specific chef qualifications, our collaboration with EYNP to increase nutritional knowledge in nurseries Link and our partnership with Bikeworks to provide children in London with access to bicycles.
In the past children feared the plague and we know they thought roses and posies of flowers would protect them. Today we are plagued by a different epidemic which requires a whole new nursery rhyme. Let’s support Paul and his taskforce to create an equally unforgettable rhyme.