More top chefs at lunchtime and fewer fast food shops outside schools – the innovative ideas suggested to transform the childhood obesity epidemic

The statistics are becoming ingrained in our minds – one in three children leave primary school overweight and one in five are a step closer to health problems as they nestle in the obese bracket. With levels rising faster than those in the USA, Great Britain is currently in the midst of a childhood obesity epidemic.
Various national initiatives have been rolled out but their level effectiveness remains to be seen. However, one recent initiative sees Great British Bake Off judge Prue Leith joining forces with top chefs to support the Chefs in School charity.
As reported by The Guardian, their aim is to recruit 100 professional chefs for 100 state schools over the next five years in a bid to improve the quality of school meals and teach children cookery skills.
Prue Leith explained, “Chefs in Schools is a great and badly needed initiative. We all know that getting children to eat well is vital for their health and happiness and chefs can help inspire schools to get food right and children to eat it.”
Nicole Pisani is one of the founders of the charity and she added: “The world we live in today is so obsessed with food. We have access to any kind of food we wish and Instagram every meal, but in schools what we serve and teach our children does not mirror that. This is why I felt compelled to create a change.”
In a separate article, Professor Russell Viner told The Daily Telegraph: “Kids are coming out of school hungry and finding themselves surrounded by cheap chicken shops, chip shops and other types of junk food. This just wasn’t the case 20 or 30 years ago. People tend to eat what’s in front of them and we need to make it easier for children to make the right choices.”
Professor Viner is president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and combined his thoughts with those of fellow paediatricians to present an idea that could also halt the crisis. With 1,800 schools surrounded by at least 10 fast food outlets within a 400-metre radius and local authorities appealing for more support, the paediatricians, supported by the Mayor of London, suggest that such outlets should be banned from opening in these areas.
With an updated childhood obesity strategy set to be published in just a few months, Professor Viner has called for increased planning power for local authorities to block certain requests and a national programme to weigh and measure children throughout childhood and adolescence, with data collected by GPs and schools.
We would like to hear your thoughts on this. Will these suggestions work? What other innovative ideas could be used to cut obesity levels? Tweet us on @Evolve_Impact .