GREEDY school children will be made to exercise before getting their chunky hands on fast food as part of new Welsh Government plans.
However there are signs of a north-south divide in the interpretation of the guidance with a plan to form exclusion zones around schools in Wrexham contrasting with a proposal to link a Bridgend comprehensive to the local McDonald’s by a purpose built footpath.
The ideas are the response of councillors to the Welsh Government’s ‘Miles to Munch – Healthy Activities to Address Unhealthy Nutritional Choices amongst Young Learners in 21st Century Learning Environments’ school meals strategy.
It was launched after the penny finally dropped at the Welsh Assembly and ministers admitted it’s pointless trying to argue with kids that they should eat salad and rice instead of deep fried junk food.
Town councillors in Bridgend are now seeking to secure £100,000 funding to build a pavement alongside the high speed A48, the by-pass specifically constructed for teachers to race from Brynteg Comprehensive to the nearby McDonald’s ‘restaurant’.
Healthy eating campaigners – who think just because people are willing to listen to Jamie Oliver their opinions will also be taken seriously – have criticised the planned footpath and suggested being mowed down at high speed is preferable to a slow lingering death from ‘fatty acids’ clogging up your arteries.
British Dietetic Association spokeswoman Melissa Little said: “I can’t comment on the safety issues because common sense says it’s won by the council, hands down. But if children are eating at McDonald’s every day, they risk obesity and heart disease, as well as feeling sluggish, not being able to focus on schoolwork and not being able to get through the day.”
Meanwhile in Wrexham the council is proposing a 400 metre exclusion zone around the town’s schools where the opening of hot food takeaways would be banned.
The council points out a round trip to the nearest burger bar would then involve pupils having to walk at least 800 metres. Children will also be encouraged to run for their lunches as part of an effort to boost the standard of middle distance running locally.
Asked how the policy would ensure children using takeaways already located near schools gain sufficient exercise, the council’s leader Ron Davies said: “Ooh bugger, we’ll get back to you on that.”