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Eating well

Schools can have a powerful role in supporting children and young people to eat well.
Schools can provide children and young people with education on why we need to make healthy food choices . They can set a good example in the food available on school premises. This makes an invaluable difference to children’s understanding and can influence the choices they make.

This is increasingly important with childhood obesity rates at an all time high – 1 in 10 British 5 year olds are now obese – rising to 1 in 5 by age 11 (read more *here*) with the least affluent children most adversely affected.
We know obesity increases the chances of a range of long term health conditions including heart disease and diabetes Type 2. It impacts on self esteem and mental health.
Helping children and young people understand how to eat healthily and establish healthy habits can help them lead healthier, happier lives.

Public Health image here

Low levels of physical activity, and increased sedentary behaviours among children and young people, exacerbate the problems of poor diet and nutrition. Data across local areas in England shows only 18% of children and young people aged 5 to 16 years reported taking part in physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day.

Children and young people need help to understand the importance of eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions to help maintain a healthy body.

Public Health England’s Change4Life and the NHS Eatwell Guide provide a wealth of resources and information for schools
The key messages are;

• eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
• base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
• have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
• eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
• choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
• drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)

Most people in the UK eat and drink too many calories, too much saturated fat, sugar and salt, and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish or fibre.

Children, young people and their families need support to move away from routinely choosing foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar. Consistent messages on healthy eating by schools can help young people establish healthier eating habits.

School water?


  • Complete the Healthy Schools Rating Scheme *here*

    Model good habits– what is available in your school vending machine or tuck shop?
    What about lunch and snack time choices?

    Sensitively challenge lunchbox contents. Offer resources on healthy lunchboxes

    Encourage teaching staff to role model making healthy choices

    Be wary of using unhealthy food choices as rewards and celebrations within school

    Consider carefully what recipes are used in food technology lessons – are these things that are healthy and can translate to home and family life?

    Help children and young people understand that - as well as what you eat, how much you eat counts *here*

    Access the Change4Life resources *here* they have child friendly materials as well as lesson plans about eating well and moving more.

    Try the Change4life food scanner app as an easy and visual way for children to look at the nutritional content of their favourite foods.

    Use the Eatwell Guide resources to support children / young people to understand nutrition recommendations *here*

    Refer struggling families to ‘Joy of Food’ where families learn to cook cheap and healthy home cooked meals in a small group (not usually more than 6 participants) – *here*

    If families tell you they have no food find out how to help them access foodbank support *here*

    If school children from low income families have siblings under 4 they may be eligible for Healthy Start Vouchers *here*

  • The Government’s Plan for Action to reduce childhood obesity by supporting healthier choices *here* and Chapter 2 of the plan *here*

    Guidance on having difficult conversations around weight with parents following National Child Measurement Programme results *here*

    Guidance on having difficult conversations around weight with children and parents *here*

    Health Education England – CPD session - Understanding and tackling childhood obesity *here* and Growth and Nutrition *here*

    The Open University offer a range of elearning modules - including Eating to win: activity, diet and weight control *here*

Who can help?

For support or advice young people, families and professionals can contact:

Just One Number for Norfolk Children and Young People’s Health Services Tel: 0300 300 0123 Monday-Friday 9am-5pm Saturday 9am-1pm.

Parents can use Parentline Text messaging service: 07520 631590

Young people aged 11-19 can text Chat Health on 07480635060

Other parents who are going through or have been through this before can be a big help to you, friends or family, or you could join our online forum to speak to Norfolk Parents

CLICK HERE to find out more


Find out about the enhanced School Nurse offer ...(content required?)

And the emotional health pathway *here*


For children with an overweight or underweight BMI, Healthy Lifestyles Coaches offer 1:1 support for the family.

Health needs assessment from the 5-19 team

Take a look at the Healthy Lifestyles section *here*


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