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Junk Food Banned to our Children

The International Congress on Obesity in Sydney declared that obesity has reached the levels of a pandemic and we are told that child obesity is one the biggest threats to our children’s health.

The figures of obese or overweight children in Britain are not encouraging and actually show that the numbers have risen with about 30% in recent years.

The reactions to this new threat are prompt as The Department for Education has published nutrition guidelines banning meals high in salt and fat. Education Secretary Alan Johnson explained that these would "undo decades of neglect" and improve pupils' health. He also said that the new guidelines would "make a difference in terms of healthy lifestyles and child obesity for a start". The warnings regarding the impact of inappropriate food on children came from teachers said Mr. Alan Johnson to BBC Radio: "Teachers have been telling us for a long time that if I child comes into school having had little or no breakfast and something deep-fried for lunch they are not going to concentrate, they are not going to be learning properly."

The Department for Education guidelines refers to the fact that meals must include at least two portions of fruit and vegetables and deep-fried foods are restricted. The standards, based on recommendations by the School Meal Review Panel, follow a campaign by TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve the quality of school dinners.

Few of the key measures seam to be common sense and they refer to: having no less than two servings per day of fruit and vegetables, serving oily fish at least once every three weeks, having bread available every day, salt should not be available at lunch and ketchup and mayonnaise should only be available in sachets, there shouldn’t be served more than two portions of deep-fried foods in a single week, manufactured meat products may only be served occasionally and only providing they meet minimum standards for meat content. One of the most important measures refers to water: free, fresh drinking water should be available at any time.

The government has earmarked an extra £240m to subsidise healthy ingredients until 2011 and school cooks will receive extra training.

Reports from Soil Association revealed that primary schools are spending on ingredients an average of extra 4p per pupil per day this year compared to 2005. Unfortunately there are some that are still spending as little as 41p per child per meal (6p less that last year average).

All the catering companies which supply schools, colleges and universities welcomed the extra cash. Some truly believe that extra funding is the key because it was very difficult to cook a good meal in a primary school for 37p. Some experts consider that more control over the food children were bringing into schools should be shown.
Similar reactions and bans to junk food have been planned by the Scottish Executive. In Wales, a working group on nutritional standards published a report calling for junk food to be restricted on school menus. Appetite for Life, recommends a ban on the sale of sweets and crisps and an increase in healthy food on the menu. Northern Ireland's education department has put out proposals for public consultation.

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