One of Britain’s top doctors has warned that children’s health is being damaged because academies and free schools are allowed to opt out of serving healthy lunches to their pupils.
Two million children at such schools are now at risk of exposure to unhealthy foods as a result of the coalition government’s divisive and “irresponsible” policy, which is undermining the fight against childhood obesity, Professor Terence Stephenson told the Observer.
Stephenson, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) – the professional body for the UK’s 250,000 working doctors – launched a sharply worded attack on government inaction over Britons’ dangerously expanding waistlines. He also accused academies and free schools – which need not comply with the same nutrient-based standards for pupils’ lunches as grant-maintained schools – of setting young people a bad example.
“It’s damaging children’s health,” he said. “Allowing children in academies and free schools to be exposed to unhealthy choices, unhealthy foods and unhealthy diets when there’s still huge concern in this country about obesity in children is definitely a backward step. Too many schools have been allowed to withdraw from this excellent, evidence-based system,” said Stephenson, a leading paediatrician.
Once people have tasted power they really don’t like giving it up, do they?