Date Published: 1 December 2006

Tackling childhood food poverty under the spotlight at all-island conference

Health News from the Republic of Ireland (Eire).

safefood brings European experts together to tackle childhood food poverty inequalities

safefood is bringing experts together from across Europe to an all-island conference entitled ‘Tackling Childhood Food Poverty – Practical approaches to food poverty in childhood’. The conference in conjunction with the Healthy Food for All Initiative will showcase examples of good practice and, look at potential solutions to addressing current challenges in the school setting, in the home, in the community and among minority groups in relation to preschool and school-going age children.

Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, Director of Public Health, safefood, commented

Food and poverty are intrinsically linked. We know that families on low incomes have low consumption levels of fresh fruit and vegetables and tend to consume more foods which are high in fat, salt and sugar. This puts them at risk of having a poor diet, with children being most vulnerable. However, parents are not to blame as diets are strongly influenced by people’s social and environmental circumstances and low income is a major factor in this mix. We are committed to fostering a better understanding of healthy eating across the island of Ireland and initiatives which tackle this issue head on.

She continued,

Attitudes to food and healthy eating habits must begin early in life, which is why safefood targets children with initiatives and interventions from an early age. We know that parents play a key role in their children’s diet. It is important that they are supported through community initiatives that promote availability and access to healthy and affordable food. Gradually increasing the intake of fresh food and vegetables in place of highly processed foods is recommended as an important step towards achieving that balance.

The conference was chaired by broadcaster Dr John Bowman, with the opening address given by Ms Emily Logan, Ombudsman for Children. Key issues addressed during the conference included food poverty in the school and home setting, community support to help overcome food poverty and also food poverty among children belonging to minority groups. Keynotes speakers looked at challenging food poverty and ways to support parents to rebalance children’s eating habits.

The Healthy Food for All Initiative is a response to the growing awareness of food poverty as a structural constraint on food consumption and dietary intake among low-income groups, and its multi-faceted consequences for health, education and social participation, as outlined in the research report Food Poverty and Policy, published Combat Poverty, Crosscare and the Society of St Vincent de Paul in 2004.


Source: safefood (Ireland).

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