Young people demand healthier food environments in East Asia and the Pacific
Young people co-create and launch a campaign to support UNICEF’s 'Fix My Food' initiative for healthier food environments for children in the region
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BANGKOK, BEIJING, 27 February 2023 – The food systems in East Asia and the Pacific, known for its diverse and vibrant food culture is changing rapidly. Traditional healthy fresh food diets are being replaced by an increasing consumption of highly processed ‘junk’ food and drink full of sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats.
Children across the region, are growing up in food environments that promote the sale and consumption of these ‘junk’ foods and drinks, rather than healthier alternatives. As a result, more than one in three adolescents are drinking at least one sugary drink a day; more than half consume a fast-food once or more a week; and less than half, are eating enough fruit and vegetables every day.
“Today, children and young people are surrounded by junk-food marketing wherever they go: online, on their way to school, college or university, on television, and even while standing in the checkout-line of the grocery store. The result is that too many children in East Asia and the Pacific have poor, unhealthy diets that are having a devastating impact on their health and well-being. It is about time that we change this,” shared Ms. Debora Comini, Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific.
UNICEF has been working closely with governments and partners to introduce policies and legislation to curb the increase in marketing of unhealthy food and drink, such as bans on advertising and sale of unhealthy foods in and around schools, clear front-of-pack nutrition labelling, and taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages amongst others.
To further promote the need for healthier food environments, UNICEF is supporting the ‘Fix my Food’ campaign led by young people to raise awareness of the need to create healthier food environments in China, Cambodia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Mongolia, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam.
Young people, together with celebrities and influencers from these eight countries were part of a two-day co-creation ‘Fix My Food’ workshop in Bangkok - brainstorming ideas and identifying potential partners to help roll out the campaign in their respective countries.
Chef Nak, Ms. Ros Rotanak, Cambodia's first female celebrity chef, and Miss World Vietnam 2019, Ms. Luong Thuy Linh were also part of the co-creation workshop and launch event.
With the young people leading the campaign and support from celebrities and influencers, UNICEF hopes to create awareness on the impact of the changing food environment in the lives of girls and boys and the urgent need for governments, the private sector and civil society to take collective action to build a healthier food environment across the region.
Speaking at the event, 24-year-old postgraduate student Chen Feipeng, who was recommended by the All China Youth Federation to attend the workshop, said “I am excited to be a part of the campaign designed and led by young people, which will send ripples across this region to raise awareness for healthier food environment. Upon coming home, I hope to work with my peers and youth groups in China, including through Hope Kitchen (a government nutrition programme). This will contribute to improved access to healthy food options that are affordable, available, packaged and marketed well, so that everyone wants to buy them.”
“Children's diets determine their physical and mental health. Every child has a right to good health. All sectors of the society need to collectively build a child-friendly food environment, and promote a sustainable food system,” said Meng Qianshan, a nutrition educator from Chengdu.
As part of UNICEF's work to mobilize and empower young people to take action, this initiative will be implemented in the eight participating countries and will be supported by UNICEF country offices and partners.
For more details and latest updates on the ‘Fix My Food’ initiative, please visit: Fix My Food! | UNICEF East Asia and Pacific and Know Your Food China.
UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
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