Food and Behaviour Research

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25 Nov 2011 - BBC News - Jamie Oliver says healthy school food standards 'eroded'

by Angela Harrison

Burger and chips

The TV chef Jamie Oliver has accused the Education Secretary Michael Gove of eroding healthy school food standards.


Several years ago, British chef Jamie Oliver, campaigned to ban junk food and get fresh, tasty and nutritious food back on the school dinners menu.  Research undertaken since, has shown that banning unhealthy options from school canteens and introducing more fruit and vegetables has improved educational achievement.

But, like Jamie Oliver, we should all be worried - it would seem we still have far to go to stem the tide of obesity:

  • a quarter of all children under the age of 10 are obese
  • a third of all children over the age of 11 are obese
  • we are the most unhealthy nation in Europe
  • the cost of obesity alone is £4 billion per year
  • the cost of diabetes is £10 billion a year

and it is predicted that these figures will double in the next 15 to 20 years.

To allow junk food back on the school menu, and the re-introduction of vending machines filled with sugary and salty snacks and fizzy drinks, would be a backward step that we simply can't afford in terms of the future health of our children and the staggering cost to our National Health Service.

Getting the 'healthy eating in schools' message across has been an unstinting and monumental task, with very good results, but a greater challenge lies in convincing the wider population, beyond their school years, of the need to cut out the junk and eat a healthier and more balanced diet.  Getting this message into every home is the next step.   

The School Food Trust is urging anyone with concerns about food in academy schools to share their evidence - to help the Trust ensure all pupils are getting the healthy lunchtime they need ... Read more here.

See also:

Nutrition, Health and Schoolchildren
Weichselbaum E, Buttriss J (2011) British Nutrition Foundation - Nutrition Bulletin 36, Issue 3 295-355 

Health School Meals and Educational Outcomes
by Michèle Belot, Nuffield College, University of Oxford and Jonathan James, Department of Economics, University of Essex

Jamie Oliver's TED Prize wish: Teach every child about food
Watch this hard-hitting, compelling and compassion speech by Jamie Oliver

A campaign by the chef led to tough new legal standards for meals in England's schools.

But now caterers are saying that some of England's new academy schools - which do not have to abide by the regulations - are asking for "unhealthy food".

The government says it trusts schools to act in their pupils' best interest.

And it says it has no reason to believe that academies will not provide healthy, balanced meals that meet the current nutritional standards

Jamie Oliver told BBC Breakfast News: "The bit of work that we did which is law was a good bit of work for any government.

"So to erode it, which is essentially what Mr Gove is doing - his view is we let schools do what they want."