Harrogate district schools see ‘large rise’ in obesity since covid


Last updated Jan 5, 2022
School meals. Photo: Flickr/Cheshire East Council

Schools in the Harrogate district have raised concerns about increasing rates of childhood obesity since the start of covid.

A report to be discussed by North Yorkshire County Council‘s Harrogate and Knaresborough area constituency committee tomorrow says there has been “a decline in the healthiness and quality of packed lunches and snacks being brought into schools”.

It adds that “many schools” in North Yorkshire have raised concerns about covid’s impact on children’s eating habits and obesity levels.

Eighty percent of respondents to a council food in schools survey in October last year wanted the healthiness of food in school to improve.

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New guidance to schools

In response to the concerns, the county council has developed a new leaflet for parents and carers preparing packed lunches.

The leaflet provides healthy alternatives and is currently rolling out in schools as part of a pilot scheme.

The council also runs various other healthy eating initiatives, such as encouraging healthier catering in schools, using free range eggs in schools and ensuring school meals are free from undesirable additives, colouring and sweeteners.

The report says:

“There is a lot of work currently underway across North Yorkshire to promote healthy eating with children, young people and families. Much of this work is linked to efforts to tackle childhood obesity but of course, good nutrition is about much more than just healthy weight management.

“In terms of childhood obesity, North Yorkshire’s rates have seen a large increase since the start of the covid pandemic, reflecting the alarming levels of around a 4.5% national increase in obesity rates.

“Furthermore, many North Yorkshire schools have reported concerns around the detrimental impact that the pandemic has had on children’s weight and eating habits.

“Schools have seen a decline in the healthiness and quality of packed lunches and snacks being brought into schools, and have requested support in terms of improving standards and with bringing the quality and healthiness of their own food provision and catering back to pre-pandemic levels.”

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