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Don't turn schools into food police

Hon Tony Ryall
National Party Health Spokesman

21 September 2006

Don't turn schools into food police

Turning schools into food police won't reduce the nation's waistline if the Government ignores the important role families play in effecting lifestyle changes, says National's Health spokesman, Tony Ryall.

He is commenting following Helen Clark's announcement of a new action plan for schools and early childhood education services to promote healthy eating and physical activity.

"Today's announcement is basically a grab bag of ideas rushed together to give the Prime Minister something to say at a conference," says Mr Ryall.

"What's needed is a coherent plan of action based around families. There's little point in making schools the food police if nothing changes at home.

"We need to encourage young people to make healthy choices, not just restrict their options. We also need to encourage parents and communities to reinforce those choices. That sort of thinking is absent from today's announcement.

"Out of 10 initiatives announced today, only one or two actually mention 'families' - that's the problem.

"Many young people today have money in their pockets and they can source banned food and drinks from outside school.

"The Government hasn't addressed the cultural practices around food. It's highly likely that its proposals will most interest those already responding to the over-weightness issue.

"Our schools are already burdened with dealing with many social problems. Making them food police without any support or follow-through at home isn't going to be as effective as a more coherent approach."

ENDS

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