New scheme to get city eating healthily

DITCHING junk food such as crisps and chips could save 580 premature deaths in Sheffield, officials have revealed as they launched a new strategy to tackle poor diets among city residents.

The statistics are based on a breakdown of national figures on the basis of Sheffield's population.

Across the UK, poor diet is believed to send 70,000 people to an early grave each year due to related conditions such as obesity and high blood pressure.

Sheffield Council has launched a Food Plan in an effort to improve people's diets and boost the city's economy as it is estimated 1 billion each year is spent in the city on food and drink.

Sheffield's plan is being developed on similar lines to plans in other large cities such as London, Manchester and Brighton.

It aims to improve access and affordability of healthy food and ensure residents "have the skills to cook healthy meals".

The food plan will also aim to reduce the environmental impact of food production and consumption, by encouraging local producers and reducing waste.

Consultation on developing the strategy has taken place involving a wide variety of groups around the city, ranging from the NHS to Sheffield Youth Parliament.

A second Food Festival will take place next year, like the one held last June, to promote local producers and chefs.

Coun Steve Ayris, Sheffield Council cabinet member for Independent and Healthy Living, said the aim was to make the city healthier.

He said: "The food plan sets out what the council, NHS Sheffield and other organisations will do over the next three years to help individuals, families, businesses and the voluntary sector to become healthier in their relationship with food."

Part of the plan will focus on delivering healthier school and hospital meals.

The council itself is also planning to source more of its food locally and offer healthy dishes to staff.

Also highlighted in the plan is the council's work to encourage residents to produce their own food through allotments.

The council is helping accommodate a boom in demand for plots by planning new sites, including one at Totley.

Work on developing the Sheffield Food Plan has taken place over the last two years.

The document is set to be approved at a meeting of the council's cabinet tomorrow.

The aims are "better access to healthy food across the city, healthier food in hospitals and schools, more opportunities to learn to cook, more jobs and business in food-related industries, more food waste recycling, more locally-farmed food in restaurants and shops, and more places to grow your own food".

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