Junkfood Science: Bad bad food education

November 15, 2007

Bad bad food education

Last year, to combat childhood obesity British school cafeterias revamped to “healthy” foods and the government removed “fattening” foods. The London Times was reporting that schools were monitoring each child’s food intake, using computers, and including dietary assessments on children’s report cards; and mothers were finding the lunches they’d packed for their kids inspected and any offending cookies removed. Kids responded by boycotting the school canteen and turned to food from vendors outside the school wall. Some were joking that the only way to get kids to abide by the government’s rigid new ideas of healthy eating would be to lock them up and force them to eat what government officials say.

It’s happened.

The Scottsman reports that a government proposal would lock children inside during lunch breaks and make them eat what the school serves. Officials have also turned their attention to lunches packed by parents at home, and want to ban from them foods and drinks they believe are fattening or bad for kids (namely fats and sugar). A paper prepared for the Glasgow City Council and Glasgow Centre for Population Health is urging local authorities to do “everything within their powers” to crack down on ‘unhealthy’ food at lunchtime.

For readers unfamiliar with the Glasgow Centre for Population Health, it is a partnership between the National Health Service in Greater Glasgow, Glasgow City Council and the University of Glasgow, and is supported by the Scottish Executive (the Scottish Government).

Officials already seem to be hinting at their next target: “what families eat at home.”

Lunchtime lock-in may be used in schools to beat obesity

SCHOOLCHILDREN should be locked in during lunch breaks to keep them away from junk food, a report into healthy eating said yesterday. Glasgow Council has also been urged to tackle Scotland's obesity crisis by banning fattening snacks and drinks from packed lunches.

The research, for the council and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health... found packed lunches, brought in from home were full of fatty, sugary foods and fizzy drinks. Andy MacGregor, research director at the Scottish Centre for Social Research, which carried out the study, added: “This research reveals that both pupils and parents are very aware of the other factors that influence what pupils eat outside school and what families eat at home.

“Pupils and parents should be kept as involved as possible in helping to inform the debate around healthy eating and in developing future plans." Bailie Gordon Matheson, the council education spokesman, said: “...We can only make real progress if we genuinely involve young people and parents, especially in the secondary sector. We also need to robustly monitor our efforts."

...And primary pupils in five areas of Scotland are currently taking part in a pilot scheme to receive free meals. The scheme for all children in the first three years of school is under way in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire, East Ayrshire, Fife and the Borders. The Scottish Government invested £5 million in the pilot scheme, with about 8,500 additional pupils expected to take up the offer in Glasgow alone.

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