South Holland headteachers are backing a national heart charity’s call for a ban on TV ads promoting junk food before 9pm.
The move from The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is prompted by news that 32 per cent of children in the East Midlands leave primary school obese or overweight.
Foods high in fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar are already banned during children’s TV programming. But Ofcom figures show youngsters’ peak viewing is between 7pm-8pm when as many as 1.8million children watch TV.
The charity says during one X Factor show last year – watched by up to 1.2 million four to 15-year-olds – there were 13 ads promoting junk food like crisps, chocolate and pizza.
BHF director of policy Mike Hobday said: “It’s worrying that so many children in the East Midlands are obese or overweight. Carrying excess weight into adulthood increases the risk of heart disease in later life.”
Excess weight also increases the risk of stroke.
They (the advertisers) are obviously very clever. They know what they are doing and the market they are aiming for.Jane Fitzgerald
Among schools backing the charity’s stand are St Norbert’s Roman Catholic Primary School in Spalding and Weston Hills Primary, although both already place a huge emphasis on healthy eating and active lifestyles.
Weston Hills headteacher Jane Fitzgerald said her school would “definitely” support the BHF call to ban junk food ads from being shown on TV before 9pm although her school has “no particular issues” with overweight pupils.
She said: “They (the advertisers) are obviously very clever. They know what they are doing and the market they are aiming for.”
Mrs Fitzgerald says her school sometimes works with families if children come into reception with “perhaps not the ideal eating habits” and there is a strong focus on health throughout the school.
She says: “We encourage lots of fitness, healthy diet approaches and also healthy school meals.”
Headteacher Louise Yarnell told us: “Yes St Norbert’s would support the ban as proposed by the national charity to ban fatty/sugary foods being advertised on TV before children go to bed.
“We believe the health, safety and welfare of all who learn at our school are of fundamental importance. We encourage pupils to appreciate the importance of a healthy and fit body, and begin to understand those factors that affect health and fitness. This will equip children with the skills, knowledge and understanding to enable them to live positive, successful and healthy lives.”
St Norbert’s pupils learn about healthy eating, hygiene and how to move, play and exercise safely in PE. The school uses some sports premium funding from the DfE for after school clubs with activities like games, dance, gymnastics, and athletics – and there’s been a big leap from 22 per cent to 76 per cent of pupils taking part.
South Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group say it is important everyone understands the dangers and health complications of obesity, and advice is available from GPs and The National Obesity Forum.
• The BHF also wants regulated targets set for industry to reduce sugar, saturated fat and salt in our foods and a 20 per cent tax on sugary drinks.