Good for you

There seems to be no let up in the steady release of data, reports and studies linking diet and good food with health and well-being.

Each one reinforces the perception that caterers, particularly those working in the public sector, have a pivotal role to play in any drive to improve the nation’s eating habits.

Schools, hospitals and social care settings lie at the heart of the issue because they embody the places where the consequences of poor diet are dealt with – whether that is obesity or malnutrition.

But let us not forget, these are also the places where any solution is also to be found, through education, encouragement and treatment.

The latest documents and reports to pop into the inbox of catering managers include one by the Association of Public Service Excellence into the opportunities for local authority catering and leisure services to tackle obesity.

Its ‘Ensuring Action on Health & Wellbeing’ report is timely as it was only in April 2013 that top-tier English authorities took back responsibility for public health.

It sets out the health problem and a clear framework for action, and has been given added importance following a recent study of government data by Diabetes UK that identified an alarming rise of nearly 60% in the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the past ten years.

These, of course, follow on from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition report recommending a significant cut in the amount of sugar we consume and this, in turn, was preceded by a British Medical Association study titled ‘Food For Thought’ that urged a 20% tax on sugary drinks to curb our thirst for them.

They are just the more recent, and there’s no reason to believe there will be any let-up in the steady ‘drip drip’ of more evidence and proposals in the months and years to come.

The foodservice industry clearly sees the need for action and can envisage a role for itself, which is why many of the key players have been happy to coalesce around the PS100 group, which includes dietitians and doctors, to try to goad the government into being brave enough to take action.

They stand ready and waiting to act. In the meantime, UK public health is suffering, and the consequences of policy inertia are increasingly seen in overweight children at school, heart attack victims in hospitals and emaciated elderly people in care homes.

Good for you

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