We are undoubtedly, as a country, in a bit of a health crisis. Takeaways and fast food are amongst the most obviously destructive food choices in this sense. Takeaways often contain more fat, salt and calories than your recommended government guideline amount. Eating foods like this can increase your risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease – two largely preventable conditions.

With millions of people at risk of developing these conditions, the National Charity Partnership (a three-year project between Tesco, Diabetes UK and the British Heart Foundation) is urging more people to choose ‘fakeaways’ over takeaways to avoid a major health crisis in the UK.

The partnership is also funding Make, Move & Munch Clubs in Nottingham dedicated to helping families reduce their risk of serious health conditions and learn more about healthy lifestyles.

Impact had the pleasure of discussing these health campaigns with Prevention Programme Manager Katherine Hale:

Could you please describe the two schemes to our readers in more detail?

The Let’s Do This campaign is a two year health campaign funded by the National Charity Partnership to help adults eat a bit better and move a bit more. The National Charity Partnership is a partnership between Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation and Tesco to help people reduce their risk of the serious but largely preventable conditions Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease. The Let’s Do This campaign involves a range of programmes such as Make, Move and Munch Clubs, Beat the Street and other local physical activity programmes. You can find out more about local Let’s Do This events in your area and get tips and recipes to help you eat better and get active here.

The Make, Move and Munch Clubs are specifically designed to provide families with information, skills and support to help them reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease. They provide fun, free activities for parents/guardians and children, with a tasty meal included every time. Each session has a different activity, which can include trying delicious new recipes through food demonstrations and cooking, or experiencing simple ways to get active.

In Nottingham, the next round of sessions will be taking place from the beginning of June. The Clubs in Nottingham are always looking for new volunteers to help deliver the sessions to families, if you’re interested in getting involved, please get in touch on [email protected].

Who are the sessions aimed at?

Make, Move and Munch Club are free sessions for local parents and kids aged 4+. Many families want to be bit a healthier, but with looking after the kids it can be hard to find time to exercise or think about healthy meals. Make, Move and Munch Clubs are designed to help parents and the children make small steps to better health, whilst having fun and meeting other local families.

“There is nothing wrong with treating yourself now and again, but eating foods that are high in fat, salt and calories on a regular basis is not good for your health”

What are the objectives?

The Clubs are designed to provide families with information, skills and support to help them reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease, through trying tasty new recipes, free food demonstrations, cooking sessions and much more.

On to a subject closer to the student heart – do you think ‘fakeaways’ (home-cooking a takeaway style dish) will ever really be able to take the place of our (admittedly horrendous) takeaway culture?

There is nothing wrong with treating yourself now and again, but eating foods that are high in fat, salt and calories on a regular basis is not good for your health. A survey commissioned by the National Charity Partnership shows that almost one in four adults (24 per cent) prefer to order out rather than cook homemade versions of their favourite takeaways, despite most people saying that homemade versions cost less and taste better (61 per cent and 60 per cent respectively).

Arguably the reason people have takeaways is because it is convenient. Wouldn’t it be more successful to impose stricter ingredient control on fast food outlets? Many people might be able to cook and be aware of how to cook a healthy alternative, but not want the hassle of cooking or cleaning.

The National Charity Partnership welcomes initiatives such as the Public Health England toolkit to help local authorities work with food outlets in their local community to provide healthier options. However, our focus is on helping individuals, who want to be a little healthier and don’t know where to start, by giving them the support and resources to get there.

“Healthy food doesn’t have to cost more, in fact it can cost less”

Given that eating healthily is arguably more expensive on the whole, do you think there is a realistic way of changing the health crisis without any financial strain for the consumer?

Our interim results from Make, Move and Munch Clubs in 2016 showed that over 60% of participants who attended all eight sessions of Make, Move and Munch, found that attending the clubs had ‘helped a lot’ with making their shopping budget go further.

Our research found there was a common perception amongst attendees that eating healthily would cost more, and this therefore presented a barrier for families already finding it difficult to make the budget stretch. However, several went on to comment that they had found the Clubs useful in illustrating that tasty, healthy food doesn’t have to cost more, in fact it can cost less. Simple recipes demonstrated by the Clubs, such as pancakes, have shown participants that making food they enjoy can be done for less than shop bought versions and they can be healthier too.

Why have you personally got behind the campaign?

As a qualified nutritionist, I understand how eating takeaways that are high in fat, salt and calories on a regular basis can lead to a number of health problems. Whilst Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease are potentially life threatening, a healthy diet is one way to reduce your risk of developing them. With one in five adults and children reportedly eating a takeaway at least once a week in the UK, we want to help people make healthier choices. This is why we have published a series of ‘fakeaway’ recipes. Small changes like this can help to make a big difference to our health in the long-term.

Do you think you can make a difference, and why will this be successful where others have failed? 

The National Charity Partnership is unique in that it brings together the work of one of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, with two leading health charities. The partnership is taking messages and ideas based on the charities’ expertise and knowledge about two specific health conditions that affect millions of people and taking them directly to people who need support. Tesco, through its enormous scale and local presence, is providing unique opportunities to reach more people and make shopping choices – which are at the heart of healthy eating – easier and more informed. We feel if we want to make a difference to people’s health they need to be encouraged to make healthy lifestyle choices in a number of ways by a number of well-respected bodies.

Rhys Thomas

Featured image by Pete, via Flickr, license here.

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