Rosie Boycott, journalist and chair of the London Food Board, well known for having founded feminist magazine Spare Rib, has joined with food campaign group London Food Link and the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative in calling on London councils to do more to support new mums and increase the prevalence of breastfeeding in the capital. 

Rosie Boycott explained, “We are calling on all London borough councils to introduce the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative for all the community services they run. This programme should ensure that all parents make informed decisions about feeding their babies and are supported in their choice.”  

17 of London’s 33 boroughs are running the UNICEF programme in some services, six of which demonstrate stronger leadership achieving the full Baby Friendly accreditation for their health visiting services. 

Sue Ashmore, Director of UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative explained “Breastfeeding has a range of health benefits for both mothers and babies. Breastfed children are less likely to suffer from digestive disorders, respiratory and ear infections, diabetes and allergies, as well as being less likely to be obese in later life. For the mother breastfeeding reduces the risk of some cancers, including breast cancer. We are concerned that the current divide in the capital means that not all mothers are receiving the same high standard of care and support.” 

The UNICEF initiative is one of nine measures reflected in the Good Food for London 2014 borough league table, published today by London Food Link and backed by an alliance of organisations working to improve London’s food. 

The league table is topped overall for the fourth consecutive year by Islington (stage 2 achieved in Baby Friendly), who continue to demonstrate strong leadership to improve food in the borough, including this year achieving the Gold Food for Life Catering Mark standard for school meals.  Leadership on several key food issues was also demonstrated by Tower Hamlets, Greenwich, Lewisham, Camden, Merton, Enfield, Kensington & Chelsea and Lambeth. However Wandsworth and Bromley came joint bottom of the table achieving a total score of 0.5 out of a possible 10.5.

Ross Compton, the author of the report, said, “The London borough league table shines a light on local authorities taking straightforward and significant steps to improve food in their borough, as well as highlighting those lagging behind. We are pleased to see that the support from London’s councils is increasing across the board for these food initiatives. Increased engagement from many boroughs has meant that despite the cuts, many more councils have found ways to continue to offer residents better food and support a fairer food system. If we are to achieve the change necessary to turn the tide on diet related ill health then we must see changes at all life stages. We are delighted to join with UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative in calling on all London boroughs to ensure the best start for every infant in London. Councils care most about what their residents think, which is why we are inviting Londoners to use our online tool to call on their council to commit to achieving full baby Friendly accreditation.”

Full report, Good Food for London 2014: View our online interactive league table and download the report 

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Notes to editors:

For media enquiries, more information, images and maps, please contact Ross Compton on 0207 065 0902 / 07840 081 469 or ross@sustainweb.org

For more information on UNICEF or the Baby Friendly Initiative, please contact the UNICEF UK press office on 020 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk

About UNICEF

UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.uk