Children are stocking up ‘a secret mountain of junk food’ on their way to and from school, according to new research.
The School Food Trust has found that nearly one in three primary school children are using the journeys to stop off to buy fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate .
It also found that more than half of secondary school pupils are spending extra cash on treats which amount to the equivalent of 20 blocks of butter and 11 bags of sugar over a year.
Sugary and fatty foods
The School Food Trust Chief Executive Judy Hargadon said: ‘Parents always want what’s best for their children. But this survey shows that despite their good intentions, children are consuming a secret mountain of junk food on the way to and from school.
‘Too often this is happening because the meal they are getting at school is simply not filling them up and the hungry child is topping up with sugary and fatty foods.
‘The introduction of higher quality school meals starting in September will mean that parents can feel confident that their child can eat better and do better.’
Earlier this year the government published new minimum nutrition standards for school food, which ban meals high in salt, fat and sugar or containing low quality meat from lunchtime menus.
The standards, based on recommendations by the School Meal Review Panel which Which? was represented on, will mean that from next month:
- school lunches will be free from low quality meat products, fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate or other confectionery
- high quality meat, poultry or oily fish will be available on a regular basis
- pupils will be served a minimum of two portions of fruit and vegetables with every meal
- any deep-fried items will be restricted to no more than two portions in a week
Ministers have also announced plans to ban junk food and fizzy drinks from vending machines in schools and want to see them replaced with healthier snacks and drinks like water, milk, fruit and yoghurt drinks.