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Ban fast food deliveries to schools: Almost one quarter of young people order takeaways to their schools

A new report, ‘The Child’s Obesity Strategy’, is calling for a ban on fast food takeaway deliveries to schools and the introduction of new initiatives such as film-style classifications on unhealthy food and a loyalty card to reward healthy food choices, as part of a raft of ideas put forward by young people to tackle the childhood obesity epidemic. Nearly one in five 10-11 year olds (19.1%) are obese, and the Government’s childhood obesity strategy has been promised this summer. However, this is the first time that young people have been asked for their views on the issue.

The move to ban deliveries to school is backed by three quarters of UK parents. In the report, which has been published by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), the Youth Health Movement, and Slimming World, young people point the finger at the temptation of fast food takeaways and unclear food labelling for the childhood obesity epidemic. Key findings from the research, which was developed from a roundtable workshop involving 19 young people aged 13-17 and a follow-up survey of more than 500 children, include:

  • Almost half of young people (49%) blame fast food takeaways as the companies or brands most at fault for childhood obesity;
  • A quarter (25%) of young people have ordered a takeaway to their school and more than half have ordered via their smartphone;
  • More than four in five (82%) think food manufacturers are misleading people when they provide fat, salt and sugar for single servings rather than for the entire product;
  • More than two in five (42%) can walk from their school to somewhere selling unhealthy food in under two minutes.

In the report, the young people identify a number of steps which could be taken by food manufacturers, retailers, Government and others to help tackle childhood obesity. Their recommendations include:

  • Fast food firms should be banned from delivering to schools (supported by 50%);
  • Nutrition information on food packaging should be provided specifically for young people, not just for adults (supported by 87%);
  • The number of teaspoons of sugar a soft drink contains should be displayed on the packaging (supported by 84%);
  • Packaging should display nutrition information for the whole product, not per serving (supported by 82%);
  • Supermarkets should give out ‘wonky’ fruit and veg to kids for free in their shops to limit pester power (supported by 80%);
  • A loyalty card that gives points for healthy food choices should be made available (supported by 78%);
  • Unhealthy food should be positioned away from the eye line of children to limit pester power (supported by 53%);
  • Food that is high in fat, salt or sugar could display film-style classifications such as PG, 12, 15 (supported by 33%);
  • Free Wi-Fi should be offered in healthy environments like parks, rather than in fast food restaurants (32% say they have gone to a fast food takeaway specifically because they offer free Wi-Fi).