Today, I demonstrated his support for World Milk Day 2016 by attending a parliamentary reception hosted by the School and Nursery Milk Alliance.
At the event I learnt of the benefits children get from drinking milk. In a recent review of evidence by Northumbria University (Newcastle upon Tyne) it was concluded that drinking milk may support immediate and lasting dental and bone health in 5 to 11 year old children, promote increased physical stature and could have a positive effect on preventing childhood obesity. This conclusion was drawn primarily from cross-sectional studies, the review reported that children who regularly drink milk have lower body mass indexes, body fat percentages and waist circumferences than children who rarely drink milk.
There are currently two key schemes which allow children to receive milk cost-effectively and conveniently packaged in school – the EU School Milk Scheme and the Nursery Milk Scheme. The Alliance works to ensure that school children receive the maximum benefits from these schemes.
Figures shared with me at the event show that Flintshire is performing well on both child obesity and child tooth decay compared to the rest of Wales. Flintshire is ranked 14th out of 22 (1 being the worst performing and 22 the best performing). This shows that Flintshire is performing at the average for Wales with 11.3% of 4-5 year olds being obese and 32.5% of 5 year olds having tooth decay experience. More still needs to be done, but Flintshire starts from a strong position to tackle these health issues.
Not only does promoting drinking milk help children live healthier lives, but it is excellent for helping the dairy industry. The industry is currently under a huge amount of pressure with dwindling prices being forced upon dairy farmers by large supermarkets.
World Milk Day is a great way of raising awareness of the health benefits drinking milk brings for our children. It is shown to help reduced childhood obesity and tooth decay. Flintshire is performing at the national average for Wales on both obesity in 4-5 year olds and 5 year olds who have experienced tooth decay. This gives us a solid foundation on which to build upon and ensure our children become healthier.
But pledging my support for World Milk Day is also to help raise the profile of our world-beating dairy industry. Dairies in Flintshire provide excellent quality produce that reaches the highest welfare standards you can find. The dairy industry is under tremendous pressures currently because of unfair pricing practices by large supermarket chains.
I hope that more people will take up drinking milk, or finding a new recipe to cook with it, to mark World Milk Day.