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You are what you eat
The relationship between our health and the food we eat is complex.
People in wealthy countries now have access to a wider choice of food products than ever before, but the amount and type of food we eat is causing significant health problems. In the UK, diabetes is estimated to have doubled in the last 20 years. The healthcare bill from an overweight and obese population was estimated to have cost the NHS £6.1 billion in 2014 to 2015, more than 10% of UK NHS spending.
In England, the proportion who were categorised as obese increased from 13.2% of men in 1993 to 26.9% in 2015 and from 16.4% of women in 1993 to 26.8% in 2015. Nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese and younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer.
Many people find it difficult to eat healthily. This is mainly because we are living in a world where unhealthy choices are readily available, and often cheap, which encourages weight gain and obesity. People in the UK are also around 20% less active now than in the 1960s. If current trends continue, we will be 35% less active by 2030.
How can we make sure that more people feel able to make healthy choices about their diet? How do we ensure that people understand the impacts, both on them and on others, that unhealthy choices have and how they might be avoided?
Research the topic:
Why do people eat a diet that may be bad for their health? Note down all the reasons you can think of.
- Think broadly about this What choices do people make and why? What influences these decisions How are different groups of people affected, e.g. children or older people?
- What is needed to change people’s behaviour? Do people need more information or support? Do rules set by government need to change? Do businesses need to change the way they do things?
What other examples can you find?
Try to find answers to your research questions by speaking to people that buy food for their families or for an organisation. You could try speaking to people that sell both cooked and uncooked food. You could also try to speak with people that work in hospitals or GP surgeries. Discuss your findings with your group!
Design the solution
Design a product, campaign or service that you think will help address the challenge you have identified.
Examples could include:
A product: can labelling be made more effective at influencing consumer choices?
A campaign: are healthy choices marketed as effectively as unhealthy choices?
A service: could consumers be linked with local food growers to become more connected to their local food network?