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Snack attack

The journey to school gives children the chance to stock up on junk food away from parental and school control

Children are using the journey to school as an opportunity to buy junk food, according to research from the School Food Trust. While parents and schools across the country are making efforts to reduce the amount of junk food consumed by children and giving them more fruit and vegetables, kids are continuing to buy crisps, sweets, chocolates and fizzy drinks.

More than 50 per cent of secondary school pupils buy treats equivalent to 20 blocks of butter and 11 bags of sugar each year, the research shows. While one in three primary school children buys fizzy drinks, crisps and chocolate while on the way to or from school.

Judy Hargadon, chief executive of the School Food Trust, believes that children are stocking up on junk food because the meals they get at school are not filling them up. However, she hopes that the introduction of higher-quality food in schools in September will improve the situation.

From next month, schools will be forced to ban all confectionary under a £220m package of reforms, announced by ministers, which includes extra money to improve kitchens and provide better ingredients.

Under the reforms, manufactured meat products will be restricted and have to meet the standards of minimum meat content, said the School Food Trust. Meals will also have to include at least two portions of fruit and vegetables a day, oily fish once every three weeks and healthier drinks, such as semi-skimmed milk.

The School Food Trust, a non-departmental public body established by the Department of Education and Skills, was launched last year at the cost of £15m. It was established to transform school food and improve education about healthy living: a task which is growing ever more important in the light of figures from the British Medical Association which estimates that by 2020, one in five boys and one in three girls will be obese.

2nd September 2008

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