The not-for-profit veg-promoting organisation teams up with nutrition experts to launch second public health campaign to improve UK family diets

Veg Power, the not-for-profit alliance to increase the UK’s vegetable consumption, launched its second ground-breaking public health campaign ‘Simply Veg’ this week (18 October).

Simply Veg is the first campaign to bring together an alliance of the top nutritionists and chefs with psychologists and children’s entertainers to combine their skills to improve UK families’ diets, according to the group.

The campaign offers a unique and holistic approach that moves beyond traditional public health nutrition education to helping parents with the real challenges they face everyday - while making it fun for kids, Veg Power said.

To ensure Simply Veg is relevant to all families, regardless of their veg eating struggles, a diverse panel of experts were brought together. By offering a unique and holistic approach to improving families’ diets, the campaign moves beyond traditional public health campaigns and focuses on the wider issues, Veg Power said. These include creating a positive food environment within the home, how to gently engage kids, understanding your children’s natural taste and sensory preferences, effective role modelling and what to do when your kids just say “no”. In addition, advice aimed specifically at families with neurodiverse children has been included, developed with support from a specialist dietitian.

As part of Simply Veg, a comprehensive manual How to Get Your Kids to Eat More Veg – A Simple Guide to a Tricky Task’ has been developed with more in depth content including videos and fun activities including engaging content from Shaun the Sheep and the creative genius of Aardman, available on the website. The manual is currently being piloted with 3,000 families in the London Borough of Lambeth.

Commenting on the launch of Simply Veg, Dan Parker, chief executive, Veg Power, said: “For the first time, UK families have a public health campaign that recognises there are many potential issues that can impact on a family’s ability to eat healthily. Through our work over the last six years we have gained a deep understanding of the complexities of feeding a family and have developed this campaign so that it caters for all, no matter what their particular struggle may be.

”We have to recognise that feeding a family is hard work, with parents facing many challenges including the cost of food and a fear of rejection and waste particularly when trying something new. We have rallied an outstanding group with a diverse range of expertise working together to create solutions squarely founded in the best science, deeply sympathetic to people’s lives and full of the joy of family, fun and food. We are confident that our approach will make the good choices, the exciting choices making a much needed and important contribution to improving our nation’s diet and ultimately, our nation’s health.”

The UK’s current eating habits are in desperate need of improvement, Parker added. Four out of five of the top risk factors for death and disability in the UK are now diet related. The impact of poor diets is placing immense strain on our healthcare system and reducing our workforce’s productivity. Poor diet often starts in childhood and stays for life - 80 per cent of UK kids aren’t eating enough vegetables with almost a third (29 per cent) of primary school aged kids eating less than one portion of veg a day.

”While Veg Power’s award-winning Eat Them to Defeat Them campaign, in partnership with ITV, has successfully encouraged children to give veg a try, more support for parents/carers is critical,” Parker said. Veg Power’s latest research shows that parents who eat more veg and create a positive food culture in their home are nearly twice as likely to have children who eat more veg, try new veg and see vegetables as fun - this runs equally true across all household income brackets.

Dr Laura Wyness, registered nutritionist and member of the expert panel said: “The evidence is clear, within the UK our diets are having a huge impact on our health, healthcare system and productivity. We desperately need to improve the current situation and support families to feed their children so that it creates life-long healthy eating habits. Bringing together a diverse range of experts to tackle this issue in an innovative way is an exciting and important step towards making a real difference.”

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, one of Veg Power’s founders and special advisers added: “If traditional public health campaigns are not having the impact necessary to help change the current eating habits in this country, we need to rethink our approach. Simply Veg recognises that feeding a family is hard work, with parents facing many challenges including the cost of food and a fear of rejection and waste, particularly when trying out new foods at home. Veg Power has been looking at the many aspects of feeding a family in a healthy way, helping to support parental role modelling and developing positive food cultures within the home. I believe that through this powerful work our team has created a brilliant campaign that can offer help and hope to millions of families in the UK.”