UK to announce school junk food ban

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Nutrition

The UK government will announce plans to ban junk food in the
nation's schools, bringing an end to the sale of crisps, chocolate
and fizzy drinks in school vending machines.

The announcement will be made this afternoon by education secretary Ruth Kelly at the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

The move is part of the government's drive to improve nutrition in schools by banning all foods with high fat, salt or sugar content from school meals and vending machines as from next September.

Additionally, school caterers will be prevented from serving "low quality bangers and burgers",​ and will only serve two portions of fried food throughout the school week.

"I am absolutely clear that the scandal of junk food served every day in school canteens must end,"​ Kelly said.

"We must make a step change in what children eat at school."

The School Meals Review Panel will next week publish a report that will set out detailed proposals for tough new nutritional standards.

With the growing global obesity crisis, nutrition in schools has recently come into sharp focus.

Last month, France banned all vending machines in schools across the nation.

France's food standards body, AFSSA, supported the ban as part of wider measures. It said in a statement that it was in favour of banning vending machines to discourage snacking, yet more action was needed to improve the nutritional value of school meals.

In the US, the American Beverages Association, backed by PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, recently introduced a voluntary ban on all drinks except water and 100 per cent juice in elementary schools, and all full-calorie soft drinks in middle schools.

Calls for bans on vending machines in schools have still been seen in some other western nations, including Ireland. Some US states have banned fizzy sodas in middle and elementary schools, while California has just passed legislation to extend this ban to high schools.

The World Health Organisation says that 22m children under 5-years-old are obese worldwide, while the number of obese children aged between six and 17 has more than doubled in the last 40 years.

The British Medical Association, representing about three quarters of UK doctors, said that if current trends continue, at least one fifth of boys and one third of girls in Britain will be obese by 2020.

In terms of market value, children's products contribute about €14-15bn to the overall €700bn food and drink market in Europe.

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