Schools Are No Place For Brain Dead Food & Drinks
Action to discourage schools from selling food high in fat, salt and sugar are a welcome step in the right direction.
The government today will announce changes to the NAGS (National Administration Guidelines) for schools requiring them to take steps to limit the sale of unhealthy food to children.
Schools are no place for brain-dead food and drinks. This should mean the end of coke vending machines, fat-filled sausage rolls and potato chips.
It is disappointing that regulations are needed because all schools should have already implemented measures such as these to improve student learning and fight child obesity. The positive impacts on student learning from schools which have made these changes need to be available to all students.
However the government must take these issues beyond the school gate because less than 30% of the food children consume is purchased at school.
Last year a Ministry of Health food survey revealed just how distorted food intake has become in New Zealand. The figures showed that families spend more on sweets each week than on fresh fruit while close to ten times more is spent advertising fast foods than advertising fresh produce. In fact a total of $124 million is now spent each year advertising sweets, chocolate, fizzy drinks, fast-foods and eating out compared to a paltry $6.2 million on fruit and vegetables. With these figures should we be surprised at the obesity epidemic?
To improve student learning and fight the obesity epidemic there are three simple additional steps the government can take:
Remove GST on fresh fruit and vegetables. Ban the advertising of fast-foods and fizzy drink on television before 8.30pm Introduce a 10% tax on fast-foods.
The first would significantly reduce the cost of fruit and vegetables for families and make them a more accessible choice for those who need it most while the other steps would start to put legitimate and reasonable restrictions on the activities of the fast-food chains which are the main drivers of the epidemic.