OAS calls on local gov to improve school meals

Obesity Action Scotland (OAS) has called on local government election candidates to commit to transform school meals in Scotland to create a healthy eating culture.

The OAS is urging national and local governments to follow four recommendations for action, including: using unprocessed foods wherever possible; prioritising vegetables, soup and salads over puddings; moving the free sugar content of meals towards new Scottish Dietary Goals; and creating a positive physical and social environment for school meals.

The OAS’ report highlighted that too often children are offered puddings high in sugar and menus regularly offer processed foods. It found that Scottish primary schools serve puddings more often than soup and these puddings have an average of 14g of sugar.

The findings outlined that while the diet of Scottish children is generally poor, school meals provide the opportunity to turn this around. In 2015 school age children ate only 2.7 portions of fruit and vegetables per day compared to the five portions recommended and only 14 per cent of school aged children ate oily fish once a week.

The OAS warned that free sugar intake is highest in children aged four to 18 compared to all other age groups. This means school age children are consuming three times the recommended level of free sugars.

Lorraine Tulloch, programme lead of Obesity Action Scotland, said: “We are calling on local government election candidates to commit to transform school meals across Scotland to ensure children have a healthy and happy experience with food. Change is possible and we have highlighted areas where that change is starting to happen, but more action is needed and greater priority and attention needs to be given to this subject to ensure we offer all our children the best start in life.”

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