MailOnline 23 Sept 2013
Nick Clegg’S £600 million free school meals plan has suffered a blow after a Government pilot scheme showed that children who switch from ‘unhealthy’ packed lunches to cooked meals are no healthier.
Supporters of the initiative to give free school meals to all pupils in the first three years of primary school say fattening food in packed lunches is fuelling rising levels of obesity among children.
But a two-year scheme to test the school meals initiative, in which tens of thousands of children had cooked meals instead of packed lunches, has found there was no change in their health or body mass index, a measure of a person’s healthy weight based on height and gender.
A report for the Department for Education found that although children ate fewer of the fatty and sugary items often found in lunch boxes, such as crisps, sandwiches, sweets and fizzy drinks, they made up for it by eating more roast potatoes and chips in the cooked school meals.
Moreover, children who previously had a packed lunch and a hot meal at home in the evening were eating extra because they had two cooked meals a day.