Britain to give obese kids cooking lessons

Britain is give all school pupils lessons in cooking healthy meals as part of attempts to tackle an epidemic of obesity in young people, officials said on Monday.

All senior school pupils aged 11 to 14 will receive practical cooking lessons and learn about the importance of a balanced diet, food safety and hygiene, the education department said.

Most secondary schools currently teach a subject known as “food technology”, but much of this is theoretical rather than practical, according to officials.

The move follows an announcement last week by Education Secretary Ruth Kelly that junk food and sweets will be banned from school canteens and vending machines.

Later Monday, a government panel looking into school meals review was expected to recommend new rules aimed at cutting levels of sugar, fat and salt in school food.

Britain has the fastest-growing problem of obesity in Europe, with cases increasing by almost 400% in 25 years.

Three-quarters of adults are now either overweight or obese, and the nation’s children are catching up.

A report earlier this year showed that from 1995 to 2002, the percentage of children who were either overweight or obese increased to 27,7% from 22,7%.

As well as poor diets at home, the problem has also been blamed on junk food eaten by children in schools.

Last year, a popular television programme hosted by celebrity chef Jamie Oliver illustrated the poor quality, pre-packaged, fatty foods prepared in many school canteens, prompting a promise of change from the government.

Education officials are to review the way food technology is taught in schools to make sure pupils get compulsory practical classes in healthy cooking.

“As well as providing healthier meals we also need to make sure that young people understand the links between poor nutritional habits and obesity,” a spokesperson for the education department said. - Sapa-AFP

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