New rules for school meals in East Midlands to tackle obesity in children

New standards will make school meals healthier
New standards will make school meals healthier

New school food standards will see pupils eating healthier as it is revealed that 30 per cent of East Midlands children are overweight or obese.

The Government’s new School Food Standards, which came into effect this month, aim to build healthier eating habits in children, as well as give school cooks more freedom in creating their own menus.

Health and wellbeing consultant at PHE East Midlands Centre, Ann Goodwin, said: “With over 30 per cent of East Midlands children in year 6 at primary school being overweight or obese, improving the diets of our children has never been more important.

“Schools play a key role in helping to achieve this and the new school food standards will ensure children get into the habit of eating healthily from an early age.

“We can help children maintain a healthy weight by following a balanced diet based, keeping an eye on portion sizes and limiting sugary drinks and sugary or fatty snacks. Children also need a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise each day, which can be achieved in one session or through shorter bursts of 10 minute activity.”

According to the new standards, minimum requirements for school kitchens include:

One or more portions of vegetables or salad as an accompaniment to meals every day

At least three different fruits, and three different vegetables each week

An emphasis on wholegrain foods

An emphasis on making water the drink of choice and limiting fruit juice portions to 150mls

Restricting the amount of added sugars or honey in other drinks to five per cent

No more than two portions a week of food that has been deep-fried, batter-coated, or breadcrumb-coated.

No more than two portions of food which include pastry each week.

Schools minister David Laws added: “These new food standards will ensure that nutritious, tasty meals can be enjoyed by children who choose a school lunch.

“Providing healthy school food boosts children’s health and education. It gives them the fuel they need to concentrate inside and outside the classroom and establishes healthy eating habits for life.”