With levels of obesity remaining high across the county, Herefordshire’s director of public health’s newly-published report sets out a vision to change the way we think about what we eat

Herefordshire’s director of public health’s annual report is jam-packed with food-related topics from farm to fork. Environmental and economic factors, education, government policies, sustainable food production and the local food economy are brought together to provide a full picture of our how food effects almost every aspect of our lives. Matt Pearce’s report discusses the good work already underway to improve our food systems as well as guidance we can adopt to improve the health of Herefordshire.

A Recipe for Healthy and Sustainable Food states that levels of excess weight in Herefordshire are above the national average among reception age children. Around 1 in 4 (25.5 per cent) children have excess weight by the time they go to school, rising to 1 in 3 (36.1 per cent) by the end of primary school. Almost two-thirds (64.7 per cent) of adults in Herefordshire also have excess weight, which is well-known to increase a person’s risk for a range of health conditions.

The report states:

“As well as people’s health, food also has significant environmental, social and economic effects, from production, through processing and transportation to preparation. The high-tech nature of most farming systems has led to us becoming increasingly distanced from agriculture, and consequently the story behind our food. Reducing food miles and promoting increased use of seasonal, good food produced locally can help address these risks while creating increased opportunity for the local economy. Having a diet that improves the health of people and the environment is therefore often deemed as a ‘win-win situation’.”

Matt Pearce’s report also reveals his top tips everyone can follow to improve the health of Herefordshire. They include:

  • Growing your own fruit and veg
  • Sourcing fresh, local, seasonal ingredients
  • Making good food choices (Red Tractor and Fairtrade foods)
  • Cooking from scratch
  • Wasting less food
  • Eating less meat

The report endorses Herefordshire Food Alliance, which is dedicated to working towards a thriving, sustainable local food economy within the county. Residents are invited to sign HFA’s charter to support a sustainable, healthy local food economy.

Published: 9th May 2023