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EDITIONS
 Monday, 23 December, 2002, 17:33 GMT
School nutrition under scrutiny
school lunch
Inspectors will be checking what children eat
Children's packed lunches could be checked by education inspectors in England under plans being drawn up with the food safety watchdog.

The Ofsted inspectors intend to investigate nutrition in England's primary schools, prompted by the Food Standards Agency.

The move follows concern at rising levels of obesity in young children.

Details are not yet fixed, but the report is also likely to include the way diet and nutrition are covered in the school curriculum - and what is provided in the tuck shop or at breakfast or after-school clubs.

Weight issue

One in three British children is overweight, and it is estimated that the number of overweight teenagers has doubled in the last 20 years.

Experts say type 2 diabetes, commonly associated with middle age, is now being seen among children.

Regulations introduced in 2001 require education authorities to provide nutritionally balanced meals.

The Local Authority Caterers' Association - the biggest representative body - estimates that about four million school lunches are provided each day.

Free meals

But not all authorities provide meals - especially in primary schools.

Instead it is down to parents to provide packed lunches, except where children are entitled to free school meals because their families are poor enough to be in receipt of benefits.

Authorities which do not provide meals include:

Hillingdon
Kingston
Harrow
Buckinghamshire
East Sussex
North Lincolnshire
Northampton
Somerset (part)
Dorset
Lincolnshire (part)
Hereford
Worcester

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said its special report would be carried out by full-time inspection staff, not part of the regular round of school inspections.

The Food Standards Agency said results would be sent to school governors to highlight examples of good practice.

A spokeswoman was unable to say whether this might include the suggestion that they provide meals for children.

See also:

28 Nov 02 | Wales
05 Nov 02 | Education
01 Apr 01 | Education
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