Sunday, 27 April 2014

School dinner control freaks

This is the perfect story for the Observer. It combines its obsession with food with its thirst for central planning and its hatred of Michael Gove, all brought together in the context of the obesity 'epidemic'.

The word 'story' flatters it, since there is no news content (it is no secret that free schools can shun Jamie Oliver's horrible food); it just quotes the opinion of 'public health' busybody Terence Stephenson who I last saw lobbying for a tax on fizzy drinks.

One of Britain's top doctors has warned that children's health is being damaged because academies and free schools are allowed to opt out of serving healthy lunches to their pupils.

"It's damaging children's health," he said. "Allowing children in academies and free schools to be exposed to unhealthy choices, unhealthy foods and unhealthy diets when there's still huge concern in this country about obesity in children is definitely a backward step."

Allowing children to be exposed to unhealthy choices, for God's sake. It's no wonder Observer sales have been plummeting if this is their idea of a front page story.

Let's take several leaps of faith for the sake of argument. Let's assume that (a) there is a childhood obesity epidemic, (b) that state-mandated school meals are less caloric than academy meals, (c) that the difference between the two meals could have any meaningful effect on obesity prevalence. All of these assumptions are dubious to say the very least, but let's proceed.

Now skip to the bottom of the Observer scoop...

"A survey by the Children's Food Trust found 99% of academies have voluntarily agreed to follow the food standards, even though they are not required to do so."

Free schools and academies make up a small minority of Britain's total schools (about 10 per cent). Within this small minority, one per cent are not following the questionable dietary regime the state mandated in 2006 after being lobbied by a fat-tongued television chef. How much of a control freak do you have to be to give a monkey's about this?


Junican said...

There is something extraordinarily juvenile about this article. There are so many imponderable which are not taken account of. For example, how much physical exercise is built into the curriculum of these teaching establishments as compared with state schools? Who knows?
It looks as if the real intention behind the article is to attack these schools because they exist.

SteveW said...

I'm assuming that they've compared obesity levels in that 0.1% of schools with the remainder and found a significant difference.

No, I'm really not.

Ivan D said...

I wonder what the Observer means by "top doctor"? Stephenson has climbed the medical establishment greasy pole to a level that he thinks gives him a right to spout his politics but I personally believe that top doctors are those who excel in and focus on the art for which they trained. Such people tend to be somewhat quieter than Stephenson who I believe also wanted Coca Cola banned from sponsoring the Olympics.