An obesity time bomb? It’s already gone off.

My life from an early age has always been food and cooking. I had a family that cared about it, a school that allowed me to learn cookery with the girls class and a career as a chef that has now led me into the world of food policy and social enterprise, not only in this country but around the world.

To sign a letter asking the Government to keep cookery in the curriculum isn’t a big decision. I see the evidence of what cooking skills can do for children whenever I visit a Let’s Get Cooking club. This simply shouldn’t be a political issue but a basic public health policy for any government, anywhere.

Every day of my life I see the passion and inspiration that learning can cook can bring to peoples lives. I see drug and alcohol addicts and people with all sorts of disabilities and mental health conditions embracing the skills, health outcomes, self esteem benefits of cookery. They use those lessons to change their lives for the better for ever.

At school, cooking brings education alive for children. Its versatility to deliver most subjects in the curriculum makes it unique. It is a subject that levels abilities, increases dialogue and interaction and can be a subject that brings classroom, school and family cohesion to the forefront.

To talk about an obesity time bomb now is folly. It’s already gone off. Spending £5bn per year on obesity with predictions of costs spiralling out of control? I’d say we now face obesity armageddon. In my own area alone, we’re spending  nearly £150million per year on obesity-related conditions. We need better control on the food education of our future and its economic impact; brilliant cookery teachers can deliver so much.

I agree we’ve all got a responsibility to help our children with this. But we need the policy framework  in place to deliver the core minimum, allowing society to add further value where we can. Ignoring cooking in the curriculum will disadvantage our economy, education and health systems for generations to come.

Rob Rees is our chairman. Email Rob here or visit his website.

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