Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Brighton - where life is short(er)

Figures recently released by the GMB union show that Brighton and Hove is trailing behind the national and regional average when it comes to life expectancy rates.

Brighton and Hove is ranked in the bottom third of the country when it comes to life expectancy. Scandalously, we’re not only trailing behind the regional average, but also that the country as a whole.

Across the region, men have an average life expectancy of 78.5 years. But in Brighton, boy babies can expect to live for just 76.3 years – a difference of more than 2 years. In the South-East, only men in born in Thanet or Hastings can expect to live shorter lives than those born in Brighton.

I can hardly think of a better time to be arguing that the Government should be funding free school meals for all.

School meals play a vital role in ensuring our children’s well-being and future life expectancy.  Providing free, healthy school meals for all our children would be the first step towards ending health inequalities.

Not only would this help close the gap between rich and poor children when it comes to life expectancy; we could also expect to see children performing better in school as their attention levels and overall health increased.

Free school meals aren’t just about giving everyone a fair start in life, they could also prove a lifesaver for low income families facing rising food prices - recent figures suggest they could save in the region of £300 per child on the costs of paying for school meals or packed lunches.

Providing free, healthy school lunches is the common sense solution to tackling so many of the problems facing our children and their parents today. When it comes to childhood obesity, spiralling food costs or the gap in life expectancy between rich and poor areas, policies like this will go a long way to ensure a healthier, happier and fairer society.

And as another cohort of four and five-year-olds start their school careers, what better time?

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