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    Home arrow 5 A Day arrow Giving children an equal start

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Giving children an equal start


T
here are large inequalities in health, throughout life. For example, the death rate from heart disease is now three times higher among unskilled men than among professionals, and the gap has widened sharply in the past 20 years. Health in early life is the foundation for health throughout life. Researchers have found that socio-economic environment in childhood is as good a predictor of cardiovascular disease risk as social status in adulthood . Improving nutrition is fundamental.

National data show that some of the greatest nutritional inequalities are found in fruit and vegetable consumption. People in low-income groups eat substantially less fruit and vegetables than those in the highest income groups, and this contributes to the ealth inequalities in later life.

Basket of Fruit

Bunch of Apples

Children growing up in disadvantaged families are about 50% less likely to eat fruit and vegetables than those in high-income families. The social class gap is greatest for fruit consumption.

People make their own choices about what to eat, but too many people feel that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is not a real option. Affordable fruit and vegetables are not always accessible, particularly in low-income areas. For example, in a MORI poll carried out for the Department of Health, people said that lack of access to affordable healthy food stopped them eating the healthy diet they wanted.

Kid eating a Pear
Kid eating a Banana

An analysis for the Social Exclusion Unit found that, for communities in deprived neighbourhoods where access to shops was a problem, people lacked the choice, access and affordability that they wanted.

Improving access to healthy food for children is particularly important. Through the National School Fruit Scheme, school children aged between four and six will be entitled to a free piece of fruit each school day.

“A healthy country would be one where health was not dictated by accident of birth and childhood experience. Everyone should have a fair chance of a long and healthy life.
Our Healthier Nation,
Green Paper (1998)

 

 
 

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