News Thursday April 14, 2011

Welsh schools to ‘close their gates’ on obesity?

Welsh schools should lock their gates at lunch time, to stop pupils gorging on fatty treats from newsagents, an organisation of health professions has urged.

The statement from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Wales (CIEH) comes after the organisation carried out a survey which showed that large numbers of pupils buy their food from takeaways.

In England, schools in Oldham are currently trialling a “takeaway-free” zone scheme, whereby fast food restaurants are banned from opening up within a certain radius of schools. There are also proposals to levy a fat tax on takeaways. The money gathered would be put towards campaigns to educate children about nutrition.

Around one quarter of children in the UK is either overweight or obese. These children are more likely to be obese in their adult lives, which could lead to serious health conditions such as heart disease and certain cancers. They also face a greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The latest study in Wales involved 600 pupils at 18 secondary schools in South-East Wales. Locked gate policies are already in place in some schools in Wales. CIEH members insist a move to enforce this in all schools would do wonders for childhood obesity levels in the country. They also propose banning mobile chip vans and ice cream vans in the vicinity of schools.

Obesity is considered to be one of the greatest public health threats in the developed world. Along with smoking it is a leading cause of avoidable, premature death.

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