The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association welcomes the opportunity to comment on the Public Consultation on the Agency’s Action Plan on the Promotion of Foods to Children. The CPHVA is the UK professional body that represents registered nurses and health visitors who work in a primary or community health setting. The CPHVA is a professional section of Amicus trade union. With over 20,000 members, it is the third largest professional union and is the only one with public health as its foundation.
Our response is as follows:
What do you think about the content of the Action Plan?
We support the action plan. We feel that the measures proposed are appropriate. The right parties are addressed, however we believe that there must be more involvement and consultation with children and young people. This needs to be done in a way that they will be positively encouraged to eat better foods. We know already that some children deliberately choose to eat less healthy foods.
We believe that any campaign to address healthier eating, should also encourage children to become more active. We know that many children have a more sedentary lifestyle than previous generations and need more opportunities to participate in physical activity.
Many more families are one-parent families. There is an issue with the lone parent or both parents working, who therefore have less time to supervise their children’s eating habits or conversely, children and young people are preparing their own meals - perhaps choosing to snack or use convenience meals because they are easier to prepare.
The fact that many of the healthier foods are more expensive than the less healthy ones means that where cost is an issue, families may need information on how best to combine these to achieve a healthier balance. Also people need clarity on what constitutes a healthy option. There are misconceptions such as to the value of frozen foods compared to fresh. Also, we have concerns that consumers are confused by the conflicting messages contained in the wording of the labels. Low fat does not necessarily mean low calorie.
Also whilst we are concerned with increasing obesity levels in the population, we must also consider the perception of thinness equating to fitness and happiness.
What is your assessment of the achievability and likely effectiveness of the individual action Plan?
The CPHVA believes that the action plan will have a positive influence on children’s diets. We feel that knowing the potential financial impact, some stakeholders will need extra consideration and some, such as schools, may need financial compensation in order to contribute to this action plan within the final timescale. There will be implications for different ethnic and cultural groups when considering food preparation and acceptable alternatives.
We believe that timescales should be set for other parties which should be similar to the stakeholders. There needs to be unity in the message which will mean realistic support for order to manage the change.
What timescales would be appropriate for taking forward the Action Plan?
Timescales must be reasonable, but need to have a clear end date. As some of the changes will not be achieved readily there must be a clear framework and cut off time. We agree with the proposed timetable.
Should you have any questions or need further clarification on points raised, please contact , Lead Professional Officer, Health Visiting. CPHVA. Tel: 020 7939 7000.