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    Retailers urged to do more to support access to healthy essentials for children

    Photo: iStock

    Parents are strongly supporting calls for supermarkets do more to prevent the cost of living crisis damaging children’s health as millions face an increasing struggle to afford food, a new survey has shown.

    According to the YouGov survey commissioned by the Food Foundation, parents want special offers and discounts to be extended to bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, with budget ranges available in convenience branches as well as main outlets.

    This would help prevent lower income families from being forced to switch to cheaper alternative foods that have poor nutritional value and increase the risk of obesity, the charity said.

    “Most families in the UK rely heavily on the major supermarkets for food, so we’d like to see the retailers stepping up to meaningfully support families with children through the cost of living crisis,” Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation said.

    “The government also has a critical role to play in tackling the cost of living crisis and ensuring everyone can afford and access the food they need. Action is urgently needed in both public policy and business practice to address this crisis.”

    Retailers urged to do more to support access to healthy essentials for children

    Latest Food Foundation data shows almost one in four households with children (24.4%) report experiences of food insecurity – that is having to skip meals, go hungry or go a whole day without eating. Worryingly, there has been no substantial improvement over the winter, showing not enough is being done to protect children from the negative impact of high food prices on their diets.

    A new briefing from The Food Foundation highlights how continuing high levels of food insecurity are likely to affect the diet of much of the UK population, with particularly serious long term health consequences for low-income families who bear the brunt of price rises.

    Poor-quality diets are a major contributor to the health crisis which has been slowly building in the UK. Over a third of children leaving primary school in England are now categorised as having an unhealthy weight and by adulthood, two thirds are overweight or obese. Children in more deprived areas are more likely to have obesity than in less deprived areas.

    The impact of price rises on diet is apparent in the Food Foundation’s most recent survey. Data released today show that food insecure households are more likely to be buying less fruit – 57 per cent of food insecure households said they were cutting down compared with 11 per cent of food secure households.

    There is a similar picture for vegetables with 42 per cent of food insecure households saying they were cutting down compared with 6 per cent of food secure households, and fish where 54 per cent said they were buying less compared with 14 per cent of food secure households who said they had reduced such purchases.

    Lower income households already consume less of these healthier foods on average and any further reductions in intake are likely to worsen dietary inequalities and subsequent ill health, the charity

    The Food Foundation has called on food retailers to support its new Kids Food Guarantee, a roadmap of best practice actions to guarantee children can eat well during the cost of living crisis and prevent lasting damage to their health and wellbeing.

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