• 17Jul

    BMA report highlights importance of improving knowledge around healthy eating

    The British Medical Association (BMA) have published a report setting out the measures needed to help promote healthier diets among children and young people.

    It makes recommendations for the improvement of promotion of healthy behaviours including: improving knowledge and attitudes towards healthy eating; the limitation of unhealthy cues and promotion of unhealthy food and drink; and international co-operation on nutrition.

    Some of the measures aim to directly protect children and young people, while others are to help parents and carers in making the right choices. The report argues that the measures will also have wider benefits. In the same way children are often susceptible to the marketing of unhealthy products, so are adults with learning disabilities. Reducing unhealthy content in processed foods will benefit all, not just children and young people.

    This report recognises that whilst short-lived, mass media public health campaigns have increased awareness and knowledge across the UK, they have not gone on to create behaviour change. It recommends that campaigns to improve knowledge and awareness as a route to change behaviour should be sustained and provide high-impact messages, and should adopt the key success factors of commercial marketing practices. Consideration should also be given to the need to reach vulnerable groups, such as those with a learning disability.

    The report reflects on the role of healthcare professionals as a provider of support and advice, stating that:

    “All healthcare professionals have a responsibility to provide advice and support to children, young people and their parents/carers on healthy dietary behaviour where possible and clinically appropriate.”

    The report finds there is need to ensure that education and health advice is tailored to support healthy dietary behaviour. It argues that this requires: investment in general practice to allow for longer patient consultation times; interventions tailored to the motivation of the individual and whether the interventions are primarily aimed at a child, young person or their parent/care; consideration to be given to factors such as an individual’s cultural background, as well as how to support vulnerable groups, such as patients with learning disabilities.

    You can access the full report or the Executive Summary on the BMA website here.