It’s a brave government that dares to tell parents how and what their children should eat, as the furore caused by yesterday’s recommendation to ban packed lunches testifies. In their report for the Department for Education, restaurateurs Henry Dimbleby and John Vincent claim that only 1 per cent of packed lunches meet the nutritional standards applied to school meals, arguing that “many parents mistakenly imagine that a packed lunch is the healthiest option”.
Whether that is practicable is open to question, but isn’t a much bigger question being missed here? In the great battle against obesity – and a shocking 20 per cent of British children now leave school obese – the focus is always on calories consumed and rarely on calories expended. There is a simple correlation between the two.
Today’s schoolchildren take less exercise than any generation in history. And the so-called Olympic legacy doesn’t look like changing that. Rather than banning packed lunches, perhaps we should ban the school run?