Move to stop pupils having lunchtime fast-foodKeep kids away from junk food outlets, says report

28 March 2008

Chip on fork

Schools should consider banning kids from leaving school grounds at lunchtime to stop them filling up on junk food, according to a new report.

The School Food Trust also wants local councils to limit the number of new fast food outlets opening up near to schools.

The call comes after the Trust released a league table revealing the areas with the most junk food outlets per secondary school.

Brighton and Hove topped the table with 46 junk food outlets per secondary school, twice the national average of 23 per school.

League table

Blackpool and Kingston-Upon-Hull claimed second and third spot, both weighing in at 40 outlets per school. Also in the top 10 were Reading, Middlesbrough, Manchester, Bristol, Inner London, Newcastle, and Gateshead, all with 35 outlets per school or more.

In contrast, Windsor and Maidenhead, and Rutland, had amongst the lowest number of junk food outlets per secondary school with 11 and 13 junk food outlets per school respectively.

The School Food Trust says the sheer array of chip shops and takeaways means that some school canteens are struggling to compete against their less healthy rivals.

Health problems

School Food Trust Chief Executive Judy Hargadon said the time had come to take action: ‘At the moment school canteens have to compete with a myriad of take-aways, chippies, and sweet shops for pupils’ dinner money.

‘We all know that some children will go for chips five times a week if they are allowed to. The problem is that this is damaging their long term health, and is also threatening the viability of school lunch services.

‘Over the coming months we will be looking at ways that schools and local authorities can combat the temptation posed by junk food outlets.’

Parent survey

The Trust said that research showed 90% of parents thought schools should adopt a stay on site policy, with 67% agreeing that children would eat more healthily if they were not allowed to leave school at lunch time.

It added that stay-on-site policies have already been successfully adopted by a number of secondary schools to help encourage healthy eating among their pupils.