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Ultra-processed foods are ‘hijacking children’s tastebuds’

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Ultra-processed foods ‘hijacking children’s tastebuds’

Chefs and campaigners say youngsters are being ‘robbed of the experience’ of good meals by diets high in sugar, salt and additives.
Kat Lay, Health Editor
ultraProcessed.jpgChildren’s health is being damaged by a poor diet from a young age, campaigners say
Ultra-processed foods are hijacking children’s taste buds and leaving them “robbed” of the experience of learning to eat, according to campaigners and TV chefs.
Celebrity cooks and authors including Thomasina Miers, Bee Wilson, Yotam Ottolenghi, Kimberley Wilson and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have written to Rishi Sunak to say that exposure to ultra-processed foods is “blindfolding” children to flavour and texture, posing long-term risks to their health.
Ultra-processed foods, which include breakfast cereals, mass-produced bread, potato-based snacks such as Pringles and many types of cakes and biscuits. They are often high in salt and sugar, contain additives, emulsifiers and preservatives, and are typically high in calories but lacking in fiber and nutrients.
Rob Percival, head of food policy at the Soil Association, said: “Ultra-processed foods are hijacking children’s taste buds. These products are often soft and sweet, and children growing up on an ultra-processed diet are left blindfolded to the joys and complexity of real food … Too few know the taste of bitter greens or the nutty flavour of beans and lentils, or have felt the crunch of a tomato bursting on their tongue.”
In a campaign with the food charity, the chefs are urging the prime minister to ensure a million extra children in education get five portions of fruit and vegetables a day , using a “whole school approach” to good food with sensory education and better school meals.
They say: “Learning to eat should be an adventure — joyful and challenging — but our children are increasingly being robbed of the experience. Many are growing up not knowing the tastes, textures, and smells of real food. Many will rarely feel fresh produce between their fingers. Many will enter adulthood only knowing the simplified and sweet flavours of ultra-processed products, leading to unhealthy choices and poorer health outcomes later in life.”
In an accompanying report the charity calls on the government to revive previous commitments to ensure school pupils cook and grow food, visit farms and eat freshly prepared meals, as envisaged in Henry Dimbleby’s national food strategy.
He resigned as government food tsar this year in protest at a lack of action to tackle rising obesity, particularly among children.
Henry Dimbleby, the co-founder of the Leon chain of restaurants, has resigned as the government’s food tsar
Independent evaluation suggests that if all schools in England followed this approach, a million more children would be eating their five-a-day.
The report also calls for procurement standards for school caterers that require them to use more organic and seasonal produce.
It adds that the government should introduce a target to reduce ultra-processed food in children’s diets by boosting consumption of minimally processed fruits, vegetables and pulses.
Dr Chris van Tulleken, one of the letter’s signatories, is author of Ultra Processed People, a book released earlier this year. He said: “Growing up on an ultra-processed diet is a bit like growing up blindfolded — cut off from the colours and complexity of real food. It’s fantastic to see that pioneering schools are beginning to address this disconnect, employing practical food education and serving freshly prepared meals. Political action is now needed to ensure all schools can do so.”
A recent report from First Steps Nutrition Trust said that high levels of ultra-processed food consumption in infancy “undermines taste development”. The standard diet of very young children normalized snacking, sweet tastes and soft textures, it said, and was at risk of displacing other less processed options necessary for growth, health and development.
A government spokesperson said: “We are taking strong action to tackle childhood obesity by cutting the salt and sugar content in foods and encouraging healthier food choices. We’ve already delivered dramatic sugar reductions in children’s foods like breakfast cereals, yogurts and fromage frais, whilst our calorie labelling legislation empowers informed food choices.
“Food is already a compulsory topic within the national curriculum for 5–14-year-olds in state-maintained schools, with children receiving high quality teaching on the importance of healthy eating and nutrition.
“We are also committed to ensuring children leave school knowing how to cook at least six healthy meals through using curriculum materials that the Oak National Academy are developing. Oak has appointed a subject expert and will start their work on producing these materials in the coming months.”
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Shout it from the rooftops, VERITAS!

When we see the American dietary guidelines putting Luck Charms cereal as one of the most nutritious foods to eat and mothers giving their children powdered donuts for breakfast and thinking it’s a nutritious meal then we have go full Orwellian.
Let’s make 1984 fiction again.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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12 hours ago, Geezy said:

When we see the American dietary guidelines putting Luck Charms cereal as one of the most nutritious foods to eat....

Better than an egg cooked in butter according to this, lol...


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Oh, that chart is disgusting, lol. Canned pineapple in heavy syrup to be in moderation but a whole egg fried in butter to be minimized!!! lol, it is crazy and anyone who actually believed this chart is a complete idiot. 

Anyway, the article you posting is so interesting. Where food deserts exist in America, we have the same issue. Some kids have NEVER seen a real veggy before! That is just terribly sad. But on the flip side, is it the school's responsibility to teach kids what vegetables are? Is it one more item to be added to the curriculum for teachers? I understand that it is important, but is it the responsibility of a government agency to explain to people what a vegetable is on the dime of taxpayers? 

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2 hours ago, Kellie said:

Oh, that chart is disgusting, lol. Canned pineapple in heavy syrup to be in moderation but a whole egg fried in butter to be minimized!!! lol, it is crazy and anyone who actually believed this chart is a complete idiot. 

It's a composite chart that some individual published on Good Ranchers, and not the official Data and Research charts published by Food Compass. But the composite chart does use the actual Food Compass scores so the implication that Lucky Charms is better than a whole egg is definitely there in their scoring system. 

2 hours ago, Kellie said:

is it the school's responsibility to teach kids what vegetables are?

Various health classes and topics about fruits and vegetables were part of my curriculum when I was in school (I'm 48). It seems so fundamental I just assumed it was. I can remember studying about fruits and vegetables in class and then going down for a school cafeteria pizza at lunch, lol.

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