Alarming statistics reveal that 20 percent of Aussie kids believe pasta comes from animals and 27 percent think that yoghurt comes from plants.
While such naivety might have been considered cute in 1970, with one in four Australian kids now considered overweight or obese, we have long passed that point.
Australian children are not dumber than their international counterparts, but they are clearly not receiving enough education on a crucially important topic – food.
Food knowledge used to be passed down from generation to generation, but now with an over-reliance on unhealthy convenience foods, millions of people lack the confidence and even the most basic skills to cook for themselves.
Today is the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution Day, a global day of action for us to talk about this serious issue. Spearheaded by British celebrity chef and campaigner Jamie Oliver, the day aims to change the way people eat by educating every child about food and giving families the skills and knowledge to cook good, healthy food.
As Australian ambassador for Food Revolution Day, and an Accredited Practising Dietician, I am calling for better food education in Australia. Food knowledge is at an all time low and this is the first generation at risk of dying before their parents.
Obesity has overtaken smoking as the leading cause of premature death and is the single biggest threat to the health of Australians. Homicide results in a mere 0.8 percent of deaths – compare this to diet-related diseases, which contribute to 60 percent of mortality rates. Poor food habits, and the diseases that occur as a consequence, are “murdering us” – and yet they get nowhere near the coverage that an actual murder by a criminal does.
The way we currently consume food is dead wrong. In 1910, two percent of meals were eaten out of the home. Today, more than 50 percent of our meals are eaten out of the home. The result is that only five percent of 12–to-18-year-olds and six percent of 19-year-olds eat their recommended serves of fruit and vegetables, yet research shows that children who have regular meals with their parents do better in every way – from better grades, to healthier relationships, to staying out of trouble.
Getting kids cooking from as early as possible helps them to develop an essential life skill, which will have an enormous impact on their future health and well-being.
This year, Jamie is aiming for the Guinness World Record to get the largest number of children cooking around the world.
If you would like to get your community, family or kids involved, register at www.foodrevolutionday.com or join the conversation on Twitter using the hash-tag #FRD2014.