Design Revolutionaries: Bite Back 2030

Date 2022-11-23

Welcome to Design Revolutionaries, a series of conversations with an underlying focus on creativity – and the revolutionary power of ideas to create positive, meaningful change.

Nicki Whiteman, Director of Communications at Bite Back 2030, talks to Holly Maguire, UK CEO at Design Bridge and Partners, about Bite Back’s youth-led movement that’s striving for change, created with a mission to give every young person in the UK access to healthy, nutritious food, no matter where they live.

Join the conversation on YouTube.

Holly Maguire: Hi Nicki, Bite Back 2030 is a youth-led movement on a mission to protect child health and halve child obesity by 2030. We worked together to create the name and identity for the organisation. Tell us about the bold mission behind the name and what it communicates about who you are and what you do.

Nicki Whiteman: Bite Back came from a simple need to do more to protect the health of children growing up in the UK today. We live in a world where our high streets, school canteens and supermarket shells are flooded with unhealthy food, and we are spending billions on making sure that that unhealthy food plays a starring role in children's minds. And this comes at a time when 1 in 3 children are at risk of being overweight or obese by the time they reach year six. Bite Back's all about resetting the system that is rigged against us and the health of our children. And that's what the young people at Bite Back want to change. They want to see that system redesigned with child health right at the heart of it.

We needed a name with spirit, and we got that. Our young people know they’re not going to win every battle. They say, “setbacks don’t set us back”, and the name Bite Back is full of their courage and determination. It nods to food, which is important, but most importantly, it’s got that sense of rebellion and the notion that we’re not just going to accept the status quo.

Most of us don’t know that ten companies control 90% of what we buy. And the worth of those companies is equivalent to the GDP of small nations. We wanted a name which would force people to ask questions about the food system we’re living with.

HM: Tell us about the unique set up of Bite Back’s Youth Board. Why is it important that the young people within Bite Back are really the creative engine?

NW: Bite Back is about eliminating the threat of diet-related disease from the future of every child growing up in the UK. What more powerful way to do that than with the voice of children? At Bite Back, young people are the engine. They are at the heart of our creative process. They are the drivers of so much change going on in the world today, they can unite across continents, across territories and across issues. We have some of the worst childhood obesity rates in Western Europe, but we’re by no means alone in this. If we’re going to see systemic change, it’s going to have to happen across the globe. And young people are the right group to be driving this.

HM: At Design Bridge and Partners we don’t see experience as being a prerequisite for brilliant creativity. You can come from anywhere and have an incredible idea. It’s the innate capability, that mindset, the drive, and ambition. What are the qualities you look for within your Youth Board? Is there something that distinguishes them?

NW: One quality that they all possess is resilience. We just launched our new campaign, Don't Like What's Inside, and the concept for that is simple. We want more honesty and transparency from the food system. How do we treat that creatively? We refuse to just stop there, and we will push that idea until we come to something that we know is special.

HM: We are very proud of our partnership with you. We know the power of brands to drive change. There's still an opportunity for these (food) organisations to change their intent to still drive a profitable, valuable business, but just be more open and honest about what it is that is in their food.

NW: We are not trying to get rid of this food, we are not against the food itself. What we want is a level playing field. A world where it's easy to eat healthily. To make it easy for every child, no matter where you are, no matter where you're from, no matter where you live, to eat healthily. That's it. It's not about the food itself, it's about the environment we've created and giving every child the option for health.

HM: Today we see a revolution within brand, which is that brands are less made for people but are made by people. And particularly the work that you're doing, people are demanding more from brands, they want to be more involved, they want to see brands act more responsibly and deliver more than just commercial capital, deliver social capital.

NW: And I know you have a huge audience across the globe, but we are always looking for creative partners to work with. It's been fantastic working with Superunion, but some of those brilliant minds, if they want to come over our side and do some good, then we'll 100% like to talk to them.

HM: We'll send out the flare. Thank you so much for your time today, Nicki. It would be great to understand anything that you have on the horizon and that you're looking toward.

NW: We've got research coming out which looks at the impact that health claims are having on teen diets. Half of all teens will tell you they'll buy something based on a health claim, but there is absolutely no regulation around where you can put a health claim. You can have a high fat, salt, sugar product and you can give it a health claim.

And we're going to continue to campaign around sport sponsorship. Schools are another big area for us. 60% of schools in the UK don't meet school food standards, but there is nobody holding anybody to account. And we think school canteens should be awash with healthy options. Healthy options should be the stars of the school canteen. We want to see a revolution in school food as well. There's so much more that can be done.

Watch the full conversation on Youtube.