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Children's health and food

Children’s health and food: new name, same aim

10 February 2023
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3 min read

In the first half of our ten-year programme, we have learned so much about how to effectively talk about this work to improve children’s health and diets. To reflect this, we have decided to change the childhood obesity programme’s name.

Five years ago, we started our childhood obesity programme with a key belief: All children should have the opportunity to be healthy and eat well, no matter where they live. Five years later, that hasn’t changed – in fact, it feels more important than ever.  

In the first half of our ten-year programme, we have learned so much about how to effectively talk about this work to improve children’s health and diets. One of the most powerful things we’ve learned is that what we say about children’s health, and how we say it, matters just as much as what we do. To reflect this, we have decided to change the Childhood Obesity programme’s name.

Going forward the programme will be known as Children’s health and food.

How did we decide on the new name?

What we say first about children’s health and the food they eat can trigger helpful or unhelpful mindsets. Childhood obesity is a top-of-mind issue for the public, but people think about it in narrow, stigmatising, and fatalistic ways. So, in 2020 we developed an evidence-based toolkit with FrameWorks UK that helps us and others working in this to talk about the impact environments have on children’s health in a transformative way. As a result, we shifted how we talk about the issue to focus on children’s health, rather than childhood obesity. To enable us to open up a different kind of conversation, one that gets us more quickly to more effective solutions, it was time to also update our name.   

We set about finding a programme name that better reflects the work we’re doing to ensure healthy, affordable food is available for every child, no matter where they live. We worked closely with colleagues across the Foundation, as well as our partners, to choose a name that captures the work we’ve done to date and where we’re headed in future. We believe our new name reflects the strong link between children’s health, food and the places where children and young people live, shop and go to school. It also speaks to the huge inequity in access to nutritious, affordable food.

We believe our new name reflects the strong link between children’s health, food and the places where children and young people live, shop and go to school. It also speaks to the huge inequity in access to nutritious, affordable food.

Rebecca Sunter
Rebecca Sunter Programme Director

What’s next for the programme?

The programme and our approach have evolved over the last five years, thanks to the partnerships we’ve been able to build with local and national organisations who are experts in improving children’s health through food As a ‘test and learn’ organisation we’re able to take these lessons and adapt our approach, like changing our name, acknowledging where we’ve got it wrong in the past.

I am confident that we will continue to test, learn and evolve in the months and years ahead and look forward to sharing this journey with you. Now that our name better matches our aim, I’m even more excited to look ahead to 2023 and share the work we and our partners are doing to make sure all children and young people can grow up healthy and thrive.

For more information on each of our portfolios of work, please see contact details for the team below: 

  • Reframing children’s health and food: changing the conversation to improve children’s health and food. This year we’re building a Community of Practice to support and strengthen our reframing work. For more information or to get involved contact Nicki Whiteman or Rachel Pidgeon.
  • Streets: tackling health inequities facing children from families living on low incomes, through improving the healthiness of food and drink sold in shops and restaurants – Matt Towner. 
  • Schools: ensuring all children can access healthy, affordable food throughout the school day with a focus on addressing the drivers of poor nutritional quality across the school food system – Louise Foreman and Nikita Sinclair.
  • Homes and Early Years: improving access to healthy, affordable food for families with young children and toddlers with a focus on improving nursery food and testing alternative models of affordable food access in communities – Carole Coulon.
  • Ventures: supporting innovation and entrepreneurship with the potential to disrupt the food industry by making healthier, affordable food more readily available for families living on low incomes – Alisha Mulhall.