A new report from the Royal Society of Public Health outlines a raft of measures aimed at overhauling the after-school street environment for children in the UK
Routing Out Childhood Obesity found that despite wider efforts to support kids’ healthy eating in school and at home, the world they experience between the school gates and the front door can still have a disproportionate effect on diet and lifestyle
With nine children in every year 6 class overweight or obese, childhood obesity in the UK poses a serious, yet fixable, public health challenge. Backed up by widespread public support, this report identifies four key aspects of the street environment that should be disrupted to give children a healthier route home from school:
Among the proposals using a mixture of licensing and planning tools to ban unhealthy fast food outlets (FFOs) from within a 5-minute walk of school gates
Ending discounts targeted at school children and ending app-based food delivery services to school gates.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Society for Public Health, said: ‘When the bells ring at the end of the day, a typical school child finds themselves in a situation they would otherwise rarely experience: with time to spare, friends to follow, change in their pocket, no adult direction, and a junk food offer within minutes on foot. It’s small wonder that, in this environment, junk food outlets have become one of the most popular after-school destinations. Our work with Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity has shown that if we are to give young people in the UK the options they deserve, and not settle for the cheap and unhealthy offer they are currently restricted to, we need a radical revamp of the street environment surrounding our schools.
‘To make this happen, we need to be ambitious and keep in mind the whole picture. As well as keeping unhealthy food outlets away from our school gates, we need to recognise and take action on the influence of ever-present junk food advertising bombarding the public. As well as giving children safe and social areas to spend time after school that aren’t fast food shops, we need to invest in cycling and walking routes to make an active lifestyle the norm and not a chore.’