New research has found that many takeaway meals sold near London schools contain much higher levels of salt and saturated fat compared to outlets such as McDonalds and Burger King. Many children are leaving school to buy these burgers, kebabs, pies and chips for their lunch.
The London Environmental Health Food Teams undertook the study on behalf of Consensus Action on Salt and Health (CASH). They looked at the foods chosen by school children from takeaway shops in 16 London Boroughs, finding that the levels of salt, total fat, saturated fat, trans fats and calories were much higher than those in school lunches.
The results have prompted the Schools Food Trust, who advise the Government on improving the nutrition of school children, to call for a ban on children leaving school during the lunch hour.
Some local initiatives are extremely encouraging; Morrison’s in Kendal, Cumbria, and McDonald’s in Folkestone have agreed not to sell to school pupils at lunch time. However, the majority of school children are exposed to snacks such as the Doner Kebab – one of which was found to contain 48.7g saturated fat, more than double the official Government daily recommendation of 20g.
Suggestions have been made for nutritional labelling of restaurant food to allow children to choose healthy options. As research in Greenwich earlier in the year proved, academic performance, as demonstrated by SATS results, may increase with better nutrition.