‘Cultural step change’ called for over Scottish school meals

Obesity charity is calling for an overhaul of Scotlands school dinners to offer healthier options. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Obesity charity is calling for an overhaul of Scotlands school dinners to offer healthier options. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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Scotland’s school meals need to be transformed “from a feeding culture to an eating culture”, an obesity charity has warned.

Obesity Action Scotland said that the school dining experience varies dramatically across the country and called for schools to eliminate junk food from menus, use more non-processed ingredients and focus on soups as a way of encouraging youngsters to eat more vegetables.

This comes after a Scotland on Sunday investigation last year revealed a postcode lottery in terms of the nutritional value of school meals – with some youngsters consuming more than the government-recommended daily fat, salt or sugar intake in a single ­serving.

Today’s report from Obesity Action Scotland found that Scottish primary schools serve puddings more often than soup – with an average of 14g of sugar per portion. It said that school-age children consume three times the recommended level of “free sugars”.

Lorraine Tulloch, programme lead of Obesity Action Scotland, said: “We are calling on local government election candidates to commit to transform school meals across Scotland to ensure ­children have a healthy and happy experience with food.

“Change is possible and we have highlighted areas where that change is starting to ­happen, but more action is needed and greater priority and attention needs to be ­given to this subject to ensure we offer all our children the best start in life.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Healthy Eating In Schools guidance exists to help local authorities and schools meet the current requirement. This includes advice on making puddings healthier.

“The Deputy First Minister confirmed on 5 March, 2017 that a review of these school food and drink nutritional standards is under way to ensure the nutritional standards are the best they can be.

“The review will also consider whether school food provision can be further improved, in light of the latest evidence from the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.”