Food Foundation launches its first report – Force-Fed

On Thursday the 21st of January, the Food Foundation launches its first report, Force-Fed, which assesses how difficult it is for typical British families to eat a healthy diet.

Through original research and a review of the existing literature, the report shows that poor diets now pose the greatest threat to our health and well-being. It demonstrates how much of our calories come from foods high in fat, sugar or salt. It documents weaknesses in planning regulations, advertising regulations, labeling, formulations and marketing which put our health at risk. It assesses why the price balance of our foods is wrong: with unhealthy up to three times a cheaper source of calories than healthy foods.

In the report, the Food Foundation argues that educating individuals on healthy eating choices can’t work when so many other factors push our behaviour in the opposite direction. The onus must instead be placed on government to take concerted action, from the local to European level, to make it easier for people to eat healthily. Immediate action to implement a sugar tax would help address some of these issues. As would a range of government policies impacting the fruit and vegetable sector (including agricultural subsidies, feed in tariffs, the Groceries Code and waste reduction programmes), which could be used to get a healthier balance of prices, and a fairer deal for farmers.

Read the Report here | Read the Executive Summary here | Read the Methodology Paper here | View the Infographic here | Read the Press Release here | #ForceFed

Listen in to the launch of Force-Fed here

Guests who braved the early start and bitter temperatures were treated to a lively panel during the morning launch of Force-Fed. The launch of the Food Foundation was also featured the same day on the World at One (39:45), BBC Online, Spectator Health and Express paper.



00:00 Laura Sandys – @Laura_Sandys, Food Foundation Chair – introduces the Food Foundation: an “independent Food Think Tank. Looking at… the overall food system and what it means to families”

05:38 Mayor of Lambeth, Councillor Donatus Anyanwu – @MayorLBLambeth – discusses how local boroughs’ health outcomes depend on “what we eat [and] how we eat”, and the Food Foundation’s role in joining the national and local policy environments.

09:25 Anna Taylor, Executive Director of the Food Foundation, takes us through the Force-Fed report. The report “[tries] to understand the Food System in Britain through the lens of a typical family… their diet, the impact it is having on their health… what they are buying… where they are eating out… what their infants’ school meals are like”. See accompanying slides for more details.

Force-Fed from The Food Foundation

29:00 Simon Maxwell – @simonmaxwell001, board member of International Food Policy Network – asks “is the [Food Foundation’s] analysis right… [and] are the recommendations plausible?”

33:03 John Glen MP (Con) – @JohnGlenMP – discusses the UK’s “dysfunctional system for delivering food” and the need for “a radical approach [to food policy] that joins up all the elements of the [food] crisis”.

37:00 Kerry McCarthy MP (Lab) – @KerryMP – reminds us “the F in DEFRA stands for food, rather than just farming”, and the need to save the NHS from the nation’s non-communicable disease burden.

42:25 Contribution from the floor: Ray Woolford – @raywoolford, food bank manager – discusses “how every taxpayer pays for the cost of the failure to eradicate food poverty”.

44:05 Rosie Boycott – @rosieboycott, London Food Board Chair and Food Foundation trustee – argues “we are not anywhere near angry enough” about our food system and how incredibly difficult it is to eat healthily.

48:35 Peter Backman – @peterbackmanFS, Managing Director of Horizons – talks about the eating out market’s contribution to our diets, and its “opportunity to educate the public”.

52:00 Kate Cooper – @BhamFoodCouncil, Chair of Birmingham Food Council – talks about the strategies of the big food industry, asks “how can a city make difference?”

56:30 Contribution from the floor: Teresa Wickman – board member of the New Covent Garden Market Authority – asks for more ‘carrots’ for overregulated producers.

57:45 Contribution from the floor: Mark Varney – FareShare – talks about taxing industry for sugar as an ingredient.

58:22 Contribution from the floor: Sue Dibb – Eating Better Alliance – talks about the need to intergrate campaigns around healthy, and sustainable, diets.

59:10 Contribution from the floor: Alison Tedstone – Public Health England – talks about the structural cues to our poor health outcomes.

1:01:20 Contribution from the floor: Elizabeth Bragg – Land Workers’ Alliance – asks that the Food Foundation engages with producers in its future work.

1:02:10 Contribution from the floor: Peter Melchett – Soil Association – questions the wisdom of making ‘deals’ with the food industry.

1:03:35 Contribution from the floor: Geoff Tansey – Fabian Commission on Food and Poverty – talks about linking up all campaigning voices in the food sector.

1:04:15 Contribution from the floor: Jonathan Pauling – Alexandra Rose Charities – asks why we are not subsidising producers of healthy food.

1:05:05 Closing comments from the panel

Praise for Force Fed

Jamie Oliver“As this report shows, there are many factors preventing our families from eating healthily. From aggressive junk food marketing and advertising to confusing labelling on food packaging, to the abundance of cheap unhealthy options that outweigh access to healthier choices. In order to reverse such trends, brave and bold action is what is needed from the government. We support the recommendations outlined in this report, particularly the calls for a 20% excise duty on sugar sweetened drinks, the banning of marketing of HFSS foods on TV before the 9pm watershed and a new marketing code to tackle non-broadcast channels, as well as clearer labelling and more support for school food. We have a duty to act on this now, and in doing so we can shift the dial on the epidemic of childhood obesity. We look forward to working with the Food Foundation as they contribute to this space going forward.”

Jamie Oliver Food Foundation – @jamiesfoodfdn

“Great new bavinchris-photoresized-1report from the Food Foundation! We need to give much more attention to vegetable production in Britain and find ways to get a better price for producers and consumers. I’d like to see DEFRA showing clear leadership on this. It would offer a clear win for public health and create opportunities to champion Great British produce.”

Chris Bavin, The Naked Grocer and BBC Presenter – @Chris_Bavin

Rosie_Boycott-241x300“I welcome this report from the Food Foundation. It shows our food policy is in need
of a major overhaul. Making healthy eating easier for everyday families should be a top priority given the risk that our diets now pose to our health and well-being. This will not only protect our children from chronic diseases such as diabetes but could also deliver reductions in green-house gas emissions. There are multiple gains to be had from strong, cross-government leadership, and we urgently need it.”

Rosie Boycott, Chair of the London Food Board and Food Foundation trustee – @RosieBoycott