Banning junk food from school meals in England needs to go hand-in-hand with a high profile healthy eating advertising campaign, says the Community Practitioners’ & Health Visitors’ Association.
The junk food ban was announced by Education Secretary Ruth Kelly at the Labour Party conference, following recommendations made by the school meal review panel, set up in the quake of TV chef Jamie Oliver’s exposure of the state of school meals.
The will mean vending machines in schools will not be allowed to sell chocolates, crisps or fizzy drinks, and school meals will no longer include low-quality foods high in fat, salt and sugar, reformed or reconstituted foods made from ‘meat slurry’.
Obi Amadi, the CPHVA’s Lead Professional Officer (Health Visiting) said: ‘A ban on junk foods needs to be backed up by an effective government-funded healthy eating campaign to compete with all the junk food advertising shown during children’s television, if children and their parents are to be educated to eat more healthily.’
‘A ban on foods with high fat, salt or sugar content from English school meals and vending machines is a step in the right direction but does not go far enough.’
The Amicus/CPHVA comments come just before the second reading of Children’s Food Bill on 28 October. Amicus/CPHVA strongly supports the passage of the Bill, as do the Medical Practitioners’ Union.
The bill aims to improve children’s current and future health and prevent food-related ill-health, such as childhood obesity and the many other diseases which are linked to children’s unhealthy diets.
It proposes the introduction of a range of commonsense statutory measures to improve the quality of children’s food, while ending commercial activities that market junk food and drinks to children. It will also ensure that all children – whatever their background – benefit from positive and healthy food environments in nurseries and schools.