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Tuckshops still offering staple diet of junk

Tuckshops still offering staple diet of pies, chips and sugar

New Zealand schools are still selling unhealthy, sugary, fatty foods for school lunches, despite increased awareness of the dangers of childhood obesity, a Green Party survey shows.

"Last year, we surveyed 50 school tuckshops and found that most food on sale to children was high in fat and sugar. We have followed this up with another survey 12 months later, and are very disappointed to find that very little has changed," Green Party Health Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"The survey shows that simply waiting for schools to improve their menus voluntarily isn't going to work. Schools should not be permitted to sell food that undermines children's health, learning and well-being. Clearly we need guidelines and timetables that all schools must adhere to," Ms Kedgley says.

The 2005 survey found that the staple foods available in tuckshops were pies, hot dogs, sausage rolls, chips, cookies, donuts, cakes and chocolate, and that most schools did not offer fruit.

"This year, 37 of the 50 schools made their menus available again, and 35 of these remained exactly the same. With the addition of randomly selected schools to make up the numbers, the overall survey results showed only very small improvements in some areas, and considerable backward trends in others.

"It is extremely disappointing and frankly baffling that we have seen little or no improvement to the terrible state of school lunch menus since last year," Ms Kedgley says.

"Given the increased awareness and rising rates of childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes and dental decay, I am surprised that schools are selling foods that undermine rather than contribute to, children's health and learning. Most schools offer lunch menus every day, meaning that many children will be eating a lunch of a pie, chips, donut and fizzy drink on a regular basis.

"It is irresponsible for schools, including some who participate in the Ministry of Education's Healthy Schools Programme, to turn a blind eye and offer menus loaded with junk food," Ms Kedgley says.

Several results from the survey show a worsening trend. For example 90 percent of schools surveyed now sell cookies / cakes / chocolate / donuts (up from 80 percent last year), and in 30 percent of schools rolls or sandwiches are more expensive than pies (up from 24 percent last year). Other worrying results show that only 31 percent of schools list water on the menu, 30 percent sell fruit, and only 22 percent yoghurt.


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