We’re at a tipping point. Diet-related disease is out of control and you don’t have to look very far to see the effects across society; diabetes, obesity, an overstretched NHS and an unsustainable impact on the UK economy. It’s pretty sobering when you learn that diet-related diseases cost the UK billions of pounds every year.. It’s hard to pin down the exact figures, but we know that we spend far more on dealing with these diseases than we do on the Police and Fire Service.
It’s even harder to consider the number of lives that have been lost to diet-related diseases – deaths that could have been avoided.
A whopping 31% of British children are overweight or obese, and yet amazingly, we see the opposite end of the spectrum too – malnutrition. How is any of this even possible in such a developed world?
Our modern-day lifestyles and seemingly benign choices over the last few decades have eroded our food system and general knowledge of food and how it affects our bodies; we’ve knocked everything out of balance. We’ve been sleepwalking towards a cliff edge and we’ve got to wake ourselves up pretty damn sharply if we’re going to avoid plummeting into the abyss.
The most depressing yet equally motivating fact about all of this, is that diet-related diseases are completely preventable – we can actually fix this and help millions upon millions of people lead healthier, happier, longer and more fulfilling lives.
I’ve spent the last three years volunteering as an ambassador for the Food Revolution in an attempt to make a difference to the wellbeing of our current and future generations. Real food is my true passion and has always played a significant part in my life – I believe that everyone has the ability and right to satisfy their hearts, stomachs and souls.
The Food Revolution is a global movement with the sole purpose of tackling these issues head-on. Simply put, we’re here to provoke debate and educate people about food and how to cook for themselves and their families.
We’re a part of Jamie Oliver’s Food Foundation charity, alongside The Ministry of Food, Jamie’s Kitchen Garden Project and the Fifteen Apprentice Programme.
My responsibility from here in Cheltenham is to help coordinate our ambassadors across the UK and to motivate, inspire and generally shake things up a bit. It’s challenging to find time whilst juggling the day-job, but our global network of ambassadors are committed to doing whatever they can to help the cause. We work with schools, restaurants, businesses, families and communities around the world to strive for improvements; every tiny action makes a difference, regardless of how small or insignificant it may seem. We all influence those around us on a daily basis, and I’m confident that together we’ll enlighten enough people to drive transformational and lasting change.
In May each year we rally the troops for Food Revolution Day, a day of action which sees tens of thousands of events hosted around the globe, reaching far and wide and making as much noise as we can to spread the word and raise awareness. There are so many angles that our volunteers are involved in, from hosting home cookery classes and tackling food waste, to campaigning for a stronger childhood obesity strategy in parliament, improving school lunches and developing sugar smart cities.
I’m currently driving a campaign to introduce healthier options in the workplace. It’s all too easy to grab processed junk food and unhealthy options from vending machines or the staff ‘tuck shop’, but you’d be surprised at how well people respond to having alternatives such as fresh fruit available to them. A simple fruit bowl tells employees that you care about their wellbeing, and it’s a great investment as healthier, happier staff perform better and take fewer sick-days. Habitual and cultural change is hard, but it’s not impossible; we have to clearly understand the underlying issues, make alternatives both accessible and appealing, and maintain momentum.
A Guest Blog from Alex Hodgkinson-Last
Alex’s blog, Food Fit For Felix, is a conduit for social media outreach, and predominantly a reference book for his own children, Felix and Winter. Alex cooks because he loves it and it’s his way of making people smile. Alex says that food connects us all and it’s a cornerstone of our very existence. His philosophy is that we all have three opportunities each day to eat something truly delicious, nutritious and comforting for the soul – why waste a single one!