Free school meals are no healthier – UK

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.