2) What are some of the key ways in which diet (including food insecurity) impacts on public health? Has sufficient progress been made on tackling childhood obesity and, if not, why not?
Socrates said food is medicine and medicine is food, the health of the country is dependant on the diet that the people eat. Why is it that one is more likely to get cancer than get married these days, in a day and age when food is plentiful compared to centuries past? Why are more and more children obese? Due to the way that food is being produced nowadays, food is lacking in nutrients and contaminated by glyphosate and other insecticides and pesticides. Agribusiness invests in science which finds that these chemicals are not harmful to humans, but just look at the cumulative effect especially over a few decades in a humans lifespan. There is much evidence to show that insecticides have been linked to Parkinson’s disease. I have suffered with an auto-immune disease since the age of 10 and since then my parents and I have spent a lot of time researching diet and nutrition, and I have been able to manage my condition by eating a diet of organic meat and vegetables and by keeping carbohydrates to a minimum, following many of the principle of Dr Natasha Campbell McBride. Some would say that this kind of diet is an expensive diet, but it doesn’t need to be. The nation’s addiction to carbohydrates is not helpful, and certainly not necessary. The consumption of carbohydrates and sugar is what is responsible for childhood obesity and diabetes etc. Progress to tackle these issues has been handicapped by vested interest science which does not want to cure the nation but just provide lots of patients for the NHS to whom they sell their drugs.
3)How accessible is healthy food? What factors or barriers affect people’s ability to consume a healthy diet? Do these factors affect populations living in rural and urban areas differently?
I have grown up on Orkney. Food on the island is limited to what is available in the supermarkets and what can be supplied to small independent shops and butchers. Due to the closure of the abertoir local meat has to be sent down south to be killed and then transported back up to Orkney to be sold to the population. This increases the expense and food miles of local meat. I have also lived and worked in Edinburgh, Exeter and Rural North Devon and all these places provided much more variety for the customer in the supermarkets, making it possible to buy nearly everything organically. In Orkney the supermarkets do not even have staples such as organic bread flour, organic tomatoes, onions etc. This negatively impacts the population as they are forced to consume less nutritious alternatives that have been exposed to harmful pesticides and chemical fertilisers.
4)What role can local authorities play in promoting healthy eating in their local populations, especially among children and young people, and those on lower incomes? How effectively are local authorities able to fulfil their responsibilities to improve the health of people living in their areas? Are you aware of any existing local authority or education initiatives that have been particularly successful (for example, schemes around holiday hunger, providing information on healthy eating, or supporting access to sport and exercise)?
I would like to see all local authority run initiatives and schools and the NHS all buying local organic produce to feed to the children and patients. If the government is serious about improving the health of the nation they must lead the way in providing nutritious meals for those in its care. The Sustainable Food Trust’s document on the un-costed cost of production, shows that this would actually cost the taxpayer less in the long term, than buying the cheapest food available to make the school dinners and hospital meals with. Also, the more demand for this kind of food that it would generate would increase the incentive for farmers to farm in this way and adopt more environmentally friendly approaches to their production and achieve the NFUs target of Net zero by 2040.
8) Do you have any comment to make on how the food industry might be encouraged to do more to support or promote healthy and sustainable diets? Is Government regulation an effective driver of change in this respect?
In my opinion, I feel that the diets promoted by supermarkets and the media and even health care professionals is now using out of date research. There is still a big focus on eating carbohydrates and avoiding fats. This is an over-simplified approach and needs to be addressed because fats can be both bad and good. For example; in pasture fed meat, as opposed to grain fed meat, the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is very different. One is carcinogenic and one is cancer-fighting. One is also part of the natural cycle for the ruminant and is useful for sequestering carbon from the atmosphere. Feeding grain to ruminants is not the answer. In the vegan debate we also see problems. If they are looking at barley beef they are right to be concerned, however promoting meat alternatives which are created from soya and maize which is resulting in the rainforests being destroyed is worse. Better to promote pasture fed meat which is healthy for the human and the environment and feed the grain to the humans. In human diet, that kind of fat is not what is causing children to be obese it is refined sugar and carbohydrates grown in nutrient depleted soils due to a mono-cultural approach to big industrial agri-business.
9) To what extent is it possible for the UK to be self-sufficient in producing healthy, affordable food that supports good population health, in a way that is also environmentally sustainable?
I have every faith that this is entirely possible if farmers adopt environmentally friendly practices. My father has farmed organically for 20 years and he produces as much as he did conventionally without the costs. He is starting to adopt mob grazing practices and this is mimicking nature and resulting in an even higher yield. He is also not causing damage to his environment and is building up a richer soil, sequestering carbon all the while. If all UK farmers adopted this approach there would be as much food, of higher quality, higher nutritional value, would be brilliant for the environment and issues with soil erosion and flooding would be non existent. The bill for the NHS would be reduced and I believe people not only would be physically healthier eating this food, but they would be mentally healthier too, as the chemical imbalance in the brain could be rebalanced. The benefits would be huge.
Miss Hannah Bown
12 September 2019