A Stamford girl’s petition is asking Public Health England (PHE) to think again about advising children to limit themselves to eating two 100 calorie snacks a day.
As part of PHE’s Change4Life campaign, which was set up to curb childhood obesity, it is being suggested that parents should feed their children 100 calorie snacks such as plain rice cakes or crackers with low-fat cheese.
A concerned Meg Ellison, 17, thinks that by abiding by the 100 calorie suggestion, children could develop eating disorders and it could lead to them to counting calories and restricting their diets.
And her petition on the change.org website has been signed by more than 5,500 people at the time of publication, including nutritionists and British long jumper Jazmin Sawyers.
Meg, who is in year 13 at Stamford High School, said: “My main aim with the petition is to raise awareness of the impact this is going to have. It is sending the wrong message, it is teaching children to calorie count.”
Meg thinks the campaign should focus on teaching children about things like balanced and healthy diets.
She believes individual child’s needs can vary and they may need more or fewer calories a day dependent on things like exercise.
“Kids have different energy levels. With nutrition there is no one size fits all,” she said.
“Diet culture is a big problem in society. I think everyone has been on a diet. It just feeds into this kind of message that we need to restrict our calories - we need balance and nutrition.”
Meg, who is planning to study nutrition at university, added she has been shocked to see how many signatures her petition has received.
The Change4Life campaign encourages families to eat more fruit and vegetables and use labelling to choose healthier foods.
Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “There’s no doubt people coping with the difficultly of an eating disorder require additional support. But with more than a third of children leaving primary school overweight or obese, Change4Life was developed to help tackle the childhood obesity crisis gripping our nation. This particular campaign responds directly to parents’ concerns about unhealthy snacks and provides tips to help them choose healthier options.”
If you want to sign the petition visit the www.change.org website and search for Meg Ellison.