RCPCH responds to National Food Strategy

Dr Max Davie, RCPCH Officer for Health Improvement, responds to the publication of the National Food Strategy.

In 2019, the Government commissioned Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon restaurants, to undertake an independent review in to the entire food chain in the UK, 'from field to fork.'

The strategy, published on 15 July 2021, made recommendations to Government, covering food production, marketing, processing, sale and purchases. Government has promised to respond formally with a White Paper within 6 months.

Dr Max Davie, RCPCH Officer for Health Improvement, said:

We welcome the publication of the National Food Strategy. We are pleased to see that the review team have taken a comprehensive approach to their inquiry and considered the broad context and varied drivers that form the conditions in which people make decisions about food.

Our flagship report, State of Child Health 2020, highlighted that there are growing inequalities in child obesity rates between those living in the most and least deprived areas. It’s good to see the strategy has devoted a section to reducing diet-related inequalities.

A number of the recommendations echo what child health experts want to see from public policy to ensure better nutrition for children and young people. We, too, want to see the Healthy Start voucher scheme expand, and food reformulated to reduce levels of sugar and salt. This is also important with regards to foods specially formulated for infants. 

We strongly support the recommendation to expand eligibility for free school meals. Last autumn, over 2,000 paediatricians signed an open letter to the Prime Minister, calling on Government to provide vouchers to cover school holidays for those children eligible. We know there is huge strength of feeling about this issue among those who work in child health, who see the realities of the impacts of poverty in their practice every day.

We look forward to acclimatising ourselves with the detail of the strategy, and urge the Government to give it full and comprehensive consideration at pace.