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Why healthy food matters


Eating healthy food makes a big difference to our health and the health of our children. Choosing to eat healthy food reduces the risk of children growing up with many diseases.  

Food related illness is now the biggest cause of preventable illness and death on the island of Ireland. Today one in 4 children in Northern Ireland and one in 5 children in Ireland will grow up at risk of food related ill health and a higher risk of early death in adulthood.

The types of food related ill health include: 

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Many common cancers
  • Muscle and bone problems increasing the risk of musculoskeletal conditions
  • Poor mental health 

What is unhealthy food? 

Unhealthy food is food that is high in salt, sugars and fats, and low in fibre. This includes sugary drinks, pastries, crisps, sweets, chocolate and food that is deep-fried. 

Our bodies seek out food that is high in calories, like sugary, salty and fatty food. It’s very easy to eat too much of it. Because it tastes good, we tend to eat bigger portions. We’re all familiar with the slogan, ‘Once you pop, you can’t stop’. 

What can we do? 

We know that children are increasingly at risk of food-related ill-health. To stop this, we need to build a healthier food environment so that healthy eating is possible for every child, in every community. 

The first step is being aware of the food that surrounds us and how we are encouraged to buy unhealthy food at every turn. Talk to friends and family about what a healthy food environment would look like. And follow the #TalkAboutFood conversation on the Safefood social channels.



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