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Teens leading fight against junk food

Young people from the campaign group Bite Back 2030 outline the best ways of making sensible eating the norm for their generation

Shining example: Christina Adane
Shining example: Christina Adane

By Staff Reporter

Although many of today's children eat unhealthily and are overweight, it has always been adults who've highlighted the problem and shouted about tackling it, but not anymore.

A new healthy eating campaign steered by a group of teenage activists, Bite Back 2030 (www.biteback2030.com), has just been launched in a bid to give all young people the opportunity to be healthy, no matter where they live, and halve childhood obesity by 2030.

Christina Adane (15), co-chair of the Bite Back Youth Board, says: "I think we are exploited all the time and we don't even know it. We're an easy target.

"In the short-term, yeah sure we're happy eating unhealthy stuff, but that's going to knock years off our lifespan and cause so many health problems."

The youth board has written an open letter to influencers, which points out that children who saw popular vloggers with sugary and fatty snacks went on to eat 26% more calories than those who didn't.

It's not just children, of course, who find healthy food hard to come by - new research by Mintel found that more than half (54%) of parents of under-18s find it difficult to ensure their child eats a well-balanced healthy diet.

The letter pleads: "Let's not sugar-coat this - junk food is being given a starring role in our minds by people like you, and our health is at risk as a result.

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"We want you to pledge to STOP posting ads for fast food online. It's not right that you're paid to promote a lie when you have the power to tell the truth.

"We are asking you to use your influence to have a positive impact on thousands of young people, to use your stories to put healthy eating in the spotlight.

"We are asking you to use your feed to feed your followers healthier options.

"Together we can give future generations the best chance to live healthy and happy lives."

Bite Back 2030 has many well-known ambassadors, including chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver, YouTube star Mia Fizz, A&E doctor and former Love Island contestant Dr Alex George and footballer Chris Smalling, who says: "I think if people are more conscious on their platforms, then ultimately the bigger companies will follow suit. People have to start making stands because we have that responsibility."

Here, Bite Back 2030 shares five easy ways to give healthy food a starring role in young minds:

1. Shout loudly about celebrities who say no to promoting junk food

New research commissioned by Bite Back 2030 found over two-thirds of children (70%) would be enticed to try a new food or drink by brand marketing.

2. Put healthier products in the spotlight in stores

Where are all the price promotions on healthy food? Our high streets, supermarket shelves and school canteens are flooded with unhealthy options.

3. Make food labelling easy to understand

Introduce clear, consistent and mandatory labelling on food and drink. Diabetes UK found nine out of 10 people agreed traffic light nutrition labelling helps us make informed decisions about the food we buy. Why don't we have world-leading nutritional information on every product to help and empower parents and kids alike? And why don't we have labelling fit for kids on kids' products, instead of using a system that's meant for adults?

4. Use cartoon characters for good

We want to see pester power being used as a force for good by only using licensed characters to promote products that aren't high in saturated fat, sugar or salt. Action on Sugar and Action on Salt found half of the 526 products featuring animated characters on their packets were so unhealthy they wouldn't be allowed to be advertised during children's TV!

5. Better access to drinking water in public places and schools

Keep Britain Tidy has found more than three-quarters (78%) of people want greater availability of free tap water in public spaces. How about more appealing water fountains on our high streets, in restaurants and public buildings?

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