School ban for sweets and fizzy drinks
CHOCOLATE, crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks will be banned from sale on school premises under radical new proposals aimed at cutting back Scotland's spiralling rates of child obesity.
New legislation, to be tabled within the next few weeks, will for the first time give ministers powers to ban unhealthy foods from school tuck shops and canteens.
But the move to ban confectionery and crisps from school prompted warnings of "health fascism" from critics last night, who argue that the measure will simply lead to more children heading out to corner shops to buy snacks during their lunch break.
Until now, the Scottish Executive has only specified that sugary drinks in vending machines would come under the new legislation, but Executive officials have confirmed proposals to remove all confectionery from schools as well.
The move comes with ministers in England having already decided to ban sweets and chocolate from schools south of the Border, following the massive pressure to improve school food in the wake of TV chef Jamie Oliver's campaign on school dinners last year.
Schools in Scotland have already put in place measures to improve the quality of canteen meals, with many now restricting the sale of chips to once every two weeks.
But recent figures showing that Scots children are now amongst the most obese in the world have convinced ministers that legislation is needed.
The proposals, which are still to be finalised, will be contained in a consultation paper setting out a Nutrition in Schools Bill. It will also force education authorities to ensure that all school meals meet high nutritional standards.
Opposition parties warned that headteachers could be unable to close down vending machines.
Stewart Maxwell, SNP deputy spokesman for health, said: "The problem is that so many schools are PPP funded and councils have taken up contracts with firms which supply junk food to help pay for the costs."
However, he backed the idea of a ban.
Conservative health spokeswoman Nanette Milne said that draconian bans were not necessary.
She said: "I do see the need for kids to have a healthy diet in schools. However, if crisps and chocolate are banned then the children may simply walk outside the school and get the food there. I don't support the idea of more legislation."
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said the bill would not attempt to ban other unhealthy foods, such as chips. Instead, schools are to be given guidance on the number of times they can serve such fatty foods.
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