The government was today urged to put ‘its foot on the accelerator’ in reviewing the excessive amounts of sugar and salt in school dinners in England and Wales.
The Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), which represents the majority of the UK’s 2,500 school nurse workforce, was commenting after research by the Soil Association showed that primary school children were eating higher levels of fat, sugar and salt than recommended by nutritionists.
The Department for Education and Skills says it is reviewing the issue, but the CPHVA urged ministers ‘to hit the accelerator’ in conducting its research.
The CPHVA director, Mark Jones said: ‘The UK is facing an obesity timebomb which will have a dramatic – and adverse – effect on public health and the finite resources of the NHS.’
‘One of the best ways to tackle this health crisis is when children are young and are at primary school. Poor nutritional value in school meals will have severe knock-on effects in later years, as teenagers won’t have learnt the culture of sensible and balanced eating.’
The Soil Association claims that an analysis of five typical primary school meals showed that children eating them would consume 40% more fat and 20% more sugar than recommended. They would also consume below the recommended levels of iron and zinc.
The CPHVA recently called for the immediate employment of 500 extra school nurses to help improve the health of the nation’s children. It has campaigned for the banning of TV advertisements promoting junk food.