School meals ‘leave kids hungry’ in obesity fight

According to the BBC, many schools in Wales have clamped down on lunch second helpings for pupils in the fight against child obesity but with the result that some children are now complaining of being left hungry…

A BBC Wales survey has found a number of councils now leave the decision on extra servings to schools or caterers.

Powys bans pudding as seconds, Cardiff schools are urged to offer only extra bread, and Ceredigion extras are small, bringing complaints from hungry pupils.

But the Welsh government says it would never want children left hungry, and it will issue new guidance next year.

BBC Wales asked education authorities about school meals, and 17 of the 22 responded. But while all said children are still allowed to ask for seconds, they may get a different response depending on where they live…

But some pupils and parents have complained about these restrictions, which follow the adoption of the Welsh government’s Appetite for Life programme, which aims to raise nutritional standards and help tackle childhood obesity.

There have also been complaints about the size of portions for primary school pupils. They have protested that 10-11-year-olds will need more food than a four-year-old.

Figures from earlier this year show more than 28% of five-year-olds in Wales are overweight, with 12.5% of children classed as obese. Wales has a bigger problem than either England or Scotland.

The standards have been in force in primary schools since September 2012, and were introduced across secondary schools at the start of this term…

In response to BBC Wales’ findings, a Welsh government spokesperson said: “We would never want to see children having school meals going hungry.

“We have provided schools with suggested portion sizes which cater for changing nutritional requirements as children get older. So, for example, a child in year 6 would have a larger portion than a child in reception.”

“Local authorities and many schools have worked hard over the years to improve the quality of food and drink provided in schools, in line with the Appetite for Life recommended standards.

“However, in the absence of legislation, there has been a variable rollout across schools. As a consequence, not all schools were achieving the recommended standards. The Healthy Eating in Schools Regulations now require compliance by schools; giving children and young people a healthy balance of food and drink throughout the entire school day.

“Statutory guidance on the Healthy Eating in Schools Regulations is currently being prepared and will be issued in the new year.”

More at:  School meals ‘leave kids hungry’ in Wales obesity fight

This seems to have an element of ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ about it. How can schools best get the balance right between feeding children enough and not contributing to excess eating? Please give us your thoughts in the comments or on twitter… 

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